Parliament denied the Democratic Alliance’s request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to a report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit detailing any witnesses who might have lied to the ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC board.
DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters, who served on the ad hoc committee, lodged the PAIA application on June 20 after previous requests to Speaker Baleka Mbete to obtain the report were unsuccessful.
“The report was one of the key recommendations of the SABC inquiry report. Significantly, it was to be completed within 60 days ‘with the aim of criminal charges being laid’,” said Waters, according to a statement.
Parliament’s acting secretary Penelope Tyawa denied Waters’ PAIA application, on the grounds that he will be granted access to the report.
“The report is currently with the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Speaker intends to refer the report to the relevant structures of the National Assembly in accordance to the rules of the National Assembly,” Tyawa wrote to Waters.
She said that the report will be presented to Parliament “by the end of August or soon thereafter”.
“Lying to Parliament a serious offence”
Waters is not impressed. He says Tyawa “has joined the Speaker of the National Assembly in trying to keep the report into those who lied during the SABC inquiry from public scrutiny”.
“This reasoning is laughable as Parliament’s Legal Services Unit completed the report and submitted it to Parliament on 5 June 2017 via its representative, the NA Speaker.
“It is now precisely the representative of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, who is protecting the persons implicated in the report by refusing to table it, which she is required to do ‘without delay’ as per NA Rule 337(e),” said Waters.
“Clearly the report into those who lied during the SABC inquiry implicates senior ANC and government officials, and Mbete is once again prioritising her role as ANC chairperson over her role as Speaker.”
Waters said, despite Mbete’s efforts, the DA will not allow those who misled the inquiry off the hook.
“Lying to Parliament is a serious offence and will not go unpunished,” he said.
He wrote back to Tyawa, asking her again to provide the report.
“Indeed, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has been derelict in her duty and has failed to table the report via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC). This does not mean, however, that the report has not been submitted to Parliament; the Speaker is the representative of Parliament and not an entity independent thereof,” Waters wrote.
Among those who could be implicated in the report is former communications minister Faith Muthambi, whom the ad hoc committee found to be “incompetent”. Others include former board chairpersons Mbulaheni Maguvhe, Ellen Tshabalala and Ben Ngubane.