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Zuma could be off the hook for Nkandla

Parliament’s all-ANC ad-hoc committee on Nkandla looks set to exonerate President Jacob Zuma.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's ad-hoc committee on Nkandla appears set to exonerate President Jacob Zuma.

The committee on Thursday evening considered its draft report on the R246 million spending scandal.

It is likely to recommend that heads roll and that procedures for making presidential homes secure be overhauled.

But it's unlikely to find that the president should repay any of the R246 million spent, as Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found he should.

The committee has called no witnesses and did not visit Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Instead, it has considered the reports of the Public Protector, the Special Investigating Unit and the government task team.

The African National Congress (ANC)'s Mmamoloko Kubayi says, "The Public Protector's remedial actions are not enforceable and binding."

ANC Member of Parliament (MP) Mathole Motshekga says without an expert assessment it's premature to conclude that Zuma unduly benefited, as the public protector found.

"I don't find any objective and rational basis to come to that conclusion."

The committee meets next week to consider the final draft of its report.

The committee is made up of six ANC MPs.

Opposition parties withdrew from the process last month, citing concerns with the legitimacy of the process.

ZUMA FAILS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT

A political storm is meanwhile brewing over Zuma's failure to answer questions in Parliament.

The rules say the president must do so four times a year.

But Zuma's done so only once this year, on 21 August.

The session was abandoned as Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs chanted 'pay back the money', a reference to the Public Protector's recommendations.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane says the president is showing contempt for Parliament and the Constitution.

He has given Speaker Baleka Mbete until Monday to respond to his request for a special debate on the issue.

"You are our representative and therefore I implore you, Madame Speaker, to schedule this debate. It is your Constitutional obligation, as much as it is ours, to ensure that Parliament exerts its powers and puts the president in his place."

But Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery accused Maimane of posturing and told MPs Zuma's absence was due to the May elections.

"That's also meant that we've had two State of the Nations and two State of the Nation debates when the president was in Parliament to respond to the issues, as well as for the Presidency budget vote."

While Mbete promised in August that the president would return to conclude his question and answer session, no date has been set.

Parliament goes into recess at the end of November.

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