President Jacob Zuma's  Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal in November 2013. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal in November 2013. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE African National Congress (ANC) used its majority muscle to kick into touch the Parliamentary committee set up to scrutinise President Jacob Zuma’s response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the R246m upgrades at his private Nkandla residence.

On Monday, the ad hoc committee set up by National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu three weeks ago held its first full session, but only got as far as passing a motion that said all work on examining the responses should be held over to the next Parliament that will be formed after the May 7 national and provincial elections.

On April 22, Mr Sisulu instructed all parties represented in Parliament to submit the names of their designated MPs who would serve on the committee and set a deadline for the committee to report back to the legislature by April 30.

The ANC took almost full advantage of the 10-day rule Parliamentary rule citing the excuse they were a bid organisation and all their members were busy on the campaign trail and announced their seven members eight days after Mr Sisulu’s instruction. Opposition parties had named their members on April 22.

The committee consisted of seven ANC members, two Democratic Alliance (DA) members, one from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and one from the Freedom Front Plus whose MP represented nine of the smaller parties.

The Congress of the People (COPE) did not take up the seat allocated to them as that party had cited the committee’s work would interfere with that of the public protector’s findings.

However, on Monday it emerged that 23 of COPE’s 37 MPs had defected to the ANC.

ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakule proposed her party’s motion that the committee should defer its work to the next Parliament.

"The ANC having carefully considered the following, I move this motion, that after considering the speaker’s terms of reference, all the documents put to the committee, including the public protector’s report on Nkandla, the referral letter of the President, and the discussions of the parties that took place on April 24 and 28, the time available is clearly insufficient and the work should be referred to the next Parliament," she said.

The response from the opposition parties was one of bitter disappointment.

Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder said the ANC could use its majority to pass the motion, but that the opposition parties would have nothing to do with it.

"By passing this motion you are failing the people," he said.