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Misleading Parliament is Misleading the Nation - DA

Misleading Parliament is Misleading the Nation - DA

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Published by eNCA.com
Nkandla: Zuma may have deliberately misled Parliament in March 2013, according to the DA, in a statement from the Parliamentary Leader's office.
Nkandla: Zuma may have deliberately misled Parliament in March 2013, according to the DA, in a statement from the Parliamentary Leader's office.

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Published by: eNCA.com on Apr 02, 2014
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06/05/2014

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Nkandla: Zuma may have deliberately misled Parliament in March 2013
(1)
 
Introduction:
The DA has over the last week and a half taken every step possible to ensure that all those responsible for the Nkandla scandal
 – 
 including President Jacob Zuma
 – 
 are held accountable. We simply cannot allow a scandal of this magnitude
 – 
 which so clearly implicates a sitting President of the Republic
 – 
 to be swept under the carpet without a fight. We owe it to our fellow South Africans, our young democracy, and to our beloved constitution to ensure that we re-double our efforts to ensure that there is real and meaningful accountability. This must, and I assure you will, include President Zuma. The Nkandla scandal has resulted not only in the unlawful abuse of public money and the violation of the trust of our fellow South Africans; but it has also undermined the integrity of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. The DA has new evidence, which is set out in the document below, which suggests that President Zuma may have deliberately misled Parliament and violated the Constitution and the law. This evidence is unpacked in four sections that investigate: 1.
 
In response to the November 2012 oral question, whether he misled Parliament on his claim that he built his own houses. 2.
 
In response to the November 2012 oral question, whether he misled Parliament on his claim that he financed the upgrade himself. 3.
 
In response to the March 2013 oral question, whether he misled Parliament on his claim that he did not have the details, nor did he receive a letter in November 2010 setting out the details of the upgrade. 4.
 
Whether in failing to cooperate with the Public Protector’s full investigation, he
violated the law and the constitution of the Republic of South Africa. In three of the four questions, the answers provided below show that a full parliamentary investigation
 – 
 which would be given effect to by our impeachment motion submitted on 20 March 2014
 – 
 must be initiated; and specifically that the evidence with respect to (3) and (4) would, on a balance of probabilities, be sufficient to prove that President Zuma did indeed mislead Parliament. The DA, as a party represented in Parliament, and committing to upholding its integrity, cannot let this go unanswered.
(2)
 
November 2012 Oral Question:
On 13 November 2012, I asked President Zuma an oral question in Parliament on the Nkandla scandal. In his response to this question, he made a number of statements before the National Assembly reflecting on both his knowledge and involvement in the nearly R250 million upgrade to his private residence in Nkandla. Some of these comments follow:
 
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“I have never asked government to build a home for me, and it has not done so. Th
e
 government has not built a home for me.”
 
“I was approached to allow security upgrades or enhancements to be made to my  Nkandla residence, which was already in existence.”
 
“Any other construction undertaken by government, beyond the premises of my home,
  such as the accommodation for government security personnel, are not part of my
residence.”
 
“I told government that I had my own plan
- which was a comprehensive plan
 – 
 to extend my home. What then happened was that I allowed government to meet with the contractors who were already on site because government, from a security point of view, insisted that they needed to participate."
 
“What government did, given its own considerations of security, was to build other
houses beyond my home for the security personnel. These are not shown on television
and these are really the government’s houses, but I do not know how much they cost.”
 
“The houses that were built by the government for its security personnel have not been
 shown. Now, I do not know where this amount of money went to, because it could not
have been so much for just these three items.”
 
“I have everything to do with the contractors who are still building my home today.
Government only dealt with them to discuss how to install the security features, nothing
more.”
 
“What the security has done for security features does not include the houses you have counted. They are neither in my residence nor my home.”
 
The Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela, duly considered in her nearly two year-long investigation whether some of these utterances made before the National Assembly were misleading, and therefore violated the Executive Ethics Code. In her report, the Public Protector noted that he did
not 
 tell Parliament the truth. Adv Madonsela reported that:
“President Zuma told Parliament that his family had built its own h
ouses and the state had not built any for them or benefited them. This was not true. It is common cause that in the name of  security;
 government built for the President and his family in his private a Visitors’ Centre, cattle
kraal and chicken run, swimming pool and amphitheatre among others. The President and his
 family clearly benefitted from this.
She however went on to conclude
 – 
 insofar as his statement on who paid for his private houses is concerned - as follows:
 I have accepted the evidence that [President Zuma] addressed Parliament in good faith and was
not thinking about the Visitors’ Centre, but his family dwellings when h
e made the statement. While his conduct could accordingly be legitimately construed as misleading Parliament, it appears to have been a bona fide mistake and I am accordingly unable to find that his conduct was in violation of paragraph 2 of the Executive
 Ethics Code.”
 
The DA respects the authority and the office of the Public Protector. We therefore accept her finding on this point.
 
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However, there are a number of other statements made before Parliament that have not been resolved, or which were not considered by the Public Protector. I will now address these two respective points, accordingly.
(3)
 
The bond on Nkandla:
During his reply to my oral question on Nkandla in November 2012, President Zuma said:
 I engaged the banks and I am still paying a bond on the first phase of my home. [Applause.]  Even at that time, there were many allegations. If honourable members remember, it is not the  first time that my home has been paraded on television. Those rondavels were paraded, accompanied by lots of allegations. Yet, I am still paying a bond to this day.
 
In her report, Adv Thuli Madonsela notes that she sent a letter to the President to inquire as to whether he misled Parliament by making a false statement about this financing of developments at Nkandla. She specifically requested clarity on the bond, as well as proof. President Zuma never responded to this request. In fact, he declined the opportunity to respond to the allegation that he misled Parliament on this point, and he refused her the opportunity to access his bond documents. Rather, he claimed Parliament is best placed to investigate this matter. Accordingly, because of the lack of information provided by the President himself, the Public Protector did
not 
 make a finding on whether he misled Parliament on this point. She notes:
 Regarding the allegation that the President may have misled Parliament and accordingly violated the Executive Ethics Code when he announced that the renovations at his private residence were financed through a bank mortgage bond,
I am unable to make a finding.
  Although having established through the Register of Financial Interests that the President has declared a mortgage bond in respect of his private residence at Nkandla since 2009, I am not able to establish if costs relating to his private renovations were separated from those of the  state in the light of using the same contractors around the same time and the evidence of one invoice that had conflated the costs al 
though with no proof of payment.”
 
This leaves open the question as to whether President Zuma misled Parliament over his bond. The President must, therefore, still explain to the National Assembly why he did not fully answer the Public Protector on this point and more importantly furnish copies of his bond
 – 
 as was requested.
The special ad hoc or ‘impeachment’ committee will have the power to subpoena this document in
the investigation of this matter, and we will expect a full explanation from the President himself on this potential misleading of Parliament.
(4)
 
Oral Question: March 2013:
Dissatisfied with the answers I received from the President in November 2012, especially in my  bid to get clarity on his knowledge pertaining to the developments, I submitted a further oral question for the next oral question session. This was to be hosted in the first term, on 20 March 2013.

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