Parliamentary Nkandla Q&A sessions deficient‚ Mpofu tells ConCourt
In a scathing indictment on the effectiveness of parliamentary questions‚ UDM advocate Dali Mpofu argued before the Constitutional Court that a parliamentary inquiry was needed into the Nkandla matter.
Mpofu argued that the 27 question and answer sessions with President Jacob Zuma on Nkandla did not yield genuine answers from him.
The EFF‚ UDM‚ COPE and DA are asking the Constitutional Court to force Parliament to start impeachment proceedings and set up a committee‚ which will grill Zuma on whether he misled Parliament on Nkandla.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng wanted to know if after 27 question and answers sessions‚ an official parliamentary inquiry was still needed into Zuma's violations when using state money to renovate his private Nkandla home.
"You believe the truth will be told this time around?" asked Mogoeng. Mpofu said: "What happens in a Q&A is direct opposite of what the Constitution describes as 'scrutinise'. There is no opportunity to scrutinise. Those [Q&A] sessions are in respect deficient."
If the EFF and other parties are successful in their court application‚ a subcommittee of different members of political parties would be set up to question on Zuma on Nkandla under oath and perhaps organise an impeachment vote.
Both EFF advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and UDM advocate Mpofu presented their cases to the court for a full two hours‚ longer than the usual one hour each.
Constitutional Court judge Justice Leona Theron appeared to nod off during the case much to Twitter users' fury‚ as her closed eyes were visible on live television.
But questions from Mogoeng‚ Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and Justice Jody Kollapen were unrelenting. They grilled both EFF and UDM advocates about why the court needed to get involved in parliamentary processes‚ due to the separation of powers doctrine in South Africa law.
They wanted to know from Mpofu‚ why a "fact-finding inquiry" was needed to investigate Zuma's offences after the Nkandla judgment by the Constitutional Court and public protector's extensive report revealed the details.
Mpofu suggested the inquiry was a way to get Zuma to answer questions about Nkandla under oath as a beginning of an impeachment process‚ rather than a new investigation into the facts of Nkandla spending.
He argued an inquiry would give a fair trial for Zuma before an impeachment vote.
He said the speaker should have set up a parliamentary inquiry into Zuma's violations of the Constitution in her role as leader of Parliament.
"The speaker is not a mere class monitor of the National Assembly. She plays a role of crucial importance. One will distil [from various pieces of legislation] she is specially empowered to really steer this ship."
The judges wanted to know if all the processes in Parliament to hold Zuma to account were used‚ before the court was asked to get involved with parliamentary matters.
Mogoeng said: "Before you go outside the family‚ you realise there is no in-house solution … then you go out."