Zuma to account to Parly in March

The president will answer oral questions in the National Assembly on 11 March.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture:GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma will answer oral questions in the National Assembly on 11 March, seven months after his last question session in the house descended into chaos.

Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have claimed Zuma has broken a parliamentary rule by refusing to answer questions in the house at least four times a year.

But a move by the Democratic Alliance to censure the president was rejected by African National Congress MPs.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete's office received confirmation today of the president's intention to answer questions.

Her spokesperson Mandlakazi Sicgawu says, "We have received confirmation of the date the president will be available for the first question and answer session in the National Assembly."

DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane says he intends to ask the president to commit to various deadlines when responding to issues including Nkandla.

Maimane says the opposition party will use this opportunity to address a number of issues which gridlocked parliamentary proceedings last year.

"We want to ask Zuma to explain to the people of South Africa why unemployment levels are on the rise and we also want him to answer nuclear questions."

Zuma last appeared in Parliament in August when his question and answer session was interrupted by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs, who shouted "pay back the money", in reference to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on Nkandla.

The Nkandla upgrades came under heavy criticism in a report by Madonsela in March last year, but Zuma has always maintained he did nothing wrong.

Madonsela's report said Zuma had "benefited unduly" from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.

Earlier this month, EFF leader Julius Malema wrote to Mbete, asking her to convene a special sitting of the assembly before Zuma's State of the Nation Address (Sona) on 12 February so that he can answer questions.

Malema warned in the letter that should his request be ignored, his party would have no choice but to use the Sona to demand answers from the president.