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Opposition proposes penalty for ministers involved in Nkandla debacle

Political parties met with Parliament’s presiding officers yesterday to discuss the ConCourt Nkandla ruling.

FILE: Police Minister Nathi Nhleko (left) accompanied by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi giving an update on the Nkandla project during the media briefing at Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town on 28 May 2015. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Opposition parties have proposed that not only the president but also the Cabinet ministers who reported to Parliament on the Nkandla spending debacle should face the music.

Last year, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and Public Works Minister Thulas briefed a Parliamentary ad hoc committee on the Nkandla project, which informed a decision by the majority African National Congress Members of Parliament in the National Assembly to absolve President Jacob Zuma of financial liability for the upgrades to his private home.

The Constitutional Court has found both Zuma and Parliament breached the Constitution in the way they dealt with the matter.

Political parties met with Parliament's presiding officers yesterday to discuss the ruling.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder says Parliament's ethics committee must probe whether the ministers misled Parliament.

"Because surely there's an executive code that says they're not allowed to mislead us."

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Narend Singh agrees the institution must investigate.

"We need to do research in this regard because there're processes to deal with that."

Meanwhile, Economic Freedom Fighters Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu says Parliament must ensure there is compliance with all of the Public Protector's directives.

"We as Parliament must write to the president before he leaves and to whoever has been mentioned in the remedial action to start implementing other remedial actions."

In her report titled Secure in Comfort, Thuli Madonsela directed the president to repay a portion of the money spent on the upgrades.

She also instructed him to reprimand the ministers for the "appalling manner" in which the project was handled.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete says she is considering all of the proposals.

MBETE CONSIDERS PROPOSAL ON ZUMA HEARING

On Wednesday Mbete said she was c onsidering an opposition party proposal that Zuma be subjected to a disciplinary hearing.

But part of what she has to look at is whether Parliament can legally discipline the president, who ceased to be an MP when he took office.

Mbete yesterday met with political parties to discuss the implications of the Constitutional Court's Nkandla judgment.

The Speaker has a lot to think about after meeting with political parties for more than two hours this morning.

"A point was also raised that the rules do apply to him when he is in the House, so these are all the issues we are applying our minds to."

Shivambu said his party has been promised a comprehensive response from the Speaker.

The Democratic Alliance's John Steenhuisen said MPs must probe whether the president and his Cabinet ministers misled Parliament on the Nkandla matter.

"Parliament cannot credibly say we hold an executive accountable if the head of the executive can come to Parliament and say things that are misleading and untrue and expect the legislature to just lap it up."