Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-05-31 Reporter:

Action on Ngcuka Report Acid Test for Parliament



Business Day

Date 2004-05-31

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Cape Town - Parliament's role in dealing with a controversial report on the actions of National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka would be a key test of the integrity of the institution, opposition parties said yesterday.

The findings of the reportly has led to an outbreak of verbal warfare between leading figures of the African National Congress (ANC).

Political parties warned of the danger that the ruling party would expose itself to in dealing with the report of public protector Lawrence Mushwana as it did in suppressing a thorough probe of the allegations of corruption into the arms deal.

Already key public institutions had been brought into disrepute by all the personal attacks which took place on the weekend, they said.

Mushwana investigated a complaint against Ngcuka by Deputy President Jacob Zuma. His report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, recommended Parliament take steps to ensure that Ngcuka and the National Prosecuting Authority be held accountable for infringing on Zuma's rights to human dignity and so causing him to be unfairly prejudiced. Mushwana also said Parliament should take steps against Ngcuka and the authority for acting in an unfair and improper manner regarding Zuma.

Mushwana also accused Ngcuka of failing to co-operate with him in the investigation on the grounds that the matter was sub judice.

Ngcuka described the report's findings as "preposterous".

National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete said that the assembly would meet on Thursday to set up "an appropriate structure to process the report, specifically its recommendations".

Independent political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said: "The immediate challenge facing the ANC is that of ensuring that internal party political battles for succession and political control do not undermine our public institutions."

He called on President Thabo Mbeki to act decisively to protect the dignity and credibility of the public protector and the prosecuting authority. "The ruling party is showing symptoms of a malignant political tumour."

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said it would be a sad day for the country if the independence of institutions vital to its democracy were compromised by internal ANC disputes.

Observers and political parties criticised the public mudslinging at the weekend. Democratic Alliance justice spokesman Sheila Camerer supported the creation of an ad hoc committee to scrutinise the report.

"This unseemly spat is a graphic illustration of how wrong the policy of redeploying highprofile ANC politicians in jobs that require complete impartiality and independence, can be."

Camerer believed it was unlikely Mushwana would have forwarded a report to Parliament "without a nod" from Mbeki.

Think-tank Idasa's political information and monitoring service head Judith February pointed to the fragility of constitutionally created institutions such as the public protector in SA's young democracy, saying examination of the report would present Parliament with an ideal opportunity to redeem itself from its previous lapses.

With acknowledgement to the Business Day.