Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-06-24 Reporter: Wyndham Hartley

MPs Find Common Ground Over Ngcuka

 

Publication 

Business Day

Date 2004-06-24

Reporter

Wyndham Hartley

Web Link

www.bday.co.za

 

Cape Town - A last-minute agreement with opposition parties stopped the African National Congress (ANC) from having to use its political muscle to get its views on the public protector's report on the conduct of national prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka accepted by a special parliamentary committee this week.

The committee is divided on the matter.

It was established to consider public protector Lawrence Mushwana's finding that Ngcuka had violated the rights of Deputy President Jacob Zuma in announcing that there was a prima facie but unwinnable case of corruption against him .

The committee has to report to the National Assembly today.

The report recommended that Ngcuka receive mild censure and also called on the justice minister to take certain actions to settle the differences between Mushwana and the prosecuting authority.

When the committee met yesterday a deal was brokered between the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Inkatha Freedom Party, the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), the Independent Democrats, the New National Party and the Pan Africanist Congress.

The deal was that the opposition parties would agree to go along with the report provided that it indicated the areas in which there were disagreements .

DA MP Sheila Camerer said she was pleased that minority views would be included in the report, and stressed that the finding that Ngcuka had unjustifiably infringed Zuma's rights was not accepted.

The opposition parties held this view because the ANC majority in the committee had not allowed Ngcuka to give his side of the story to the committee.

The DA also did not agree to expressing disapproval of Ngcuka's conduct because he had not given evidence to the committee.

ACDP MP Steve Swart agreed.

"At the onset of the parliamentary hearings, the national prosecuting authority requested an opportunity to respond in a letter to the committee. This request was not acceded to by the committee.

"The ACDP, together with other parties, requested that the (prosecuting authority) be given an opportunity to respond, either orally or by means of a written submission.

"This request was similarly not agreed to by the committee, and committee members were obliged to consider the report without the benefit of the (authority's) submission, or any other background information that would have placed (Ngcuka's) statement in context," Swart said.

The matter is set to go before the National Assembly today, and each party will have the chance at least to make a declaration to the house.

With acknowledgements to Wyndham Hartley and the Business Day.