The ANC and their former chief whip Stone Sizani were frantically doing damage control after the latter told the Mail & Guardian that the ruling party had always wanted President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the money for the Nkandla upgrades. The front page M&G story was top of the news agenda on most radio and television stations with Sizani first denying the words attributed to him before backtracking and claiming the comments were taken out of context.
The ANC this afternoon distanced themselves from Sizani’s comments, with incoming ANC chief whip Moloto Mothapo insisting these were not the views of the organisation.
“All the reports that Parliament considered relating to the Nkandla matter, including the public protector’s ‘Secure in Comfort’, are matters of national importance, and we thus believe that Parliament was within its rights to independently consider them and express a view.
“As we have repeatedly emphasised, both inside and outside of the parliamentary ad hoc committees, Parliament’s consideration of these reports and its recommendations did not in anyway seek to replace, rewrite or second guess that of the public protector. Parliament has no powers, and indeed it was never the mandate of the ad hoc committee to do so, to alter the reports of the public protector or any other chapter 9 institution,” read Mothapo’s statement.
“We believe that Parliament did what it ought to do in line with its understanding of its Constitutional obligations.”
Mothapo said the party would await the Constitutional Court ruling on the matter and be guided by its recommendations.
The Twittersphere was having a field day at Sizani’s back and forth with many berating both him and the ANC for not singing from the same hymn sheet. In an interview on PowerFM Sizani said the Mail & Guardian misquoted him and have twisted his words to create divisions within the ruling party. Power Breakfast co-host Lawrence Tlhabane pointed out that Sizani was contradicting himself. However, he stood by his guns, insisting he did not say that the ANC parliamentary caucus wanted Zuma to pay back the money.
When asked if he agrees with Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s findings that the president is liable to pay the state back, Sizani said that Nhleko and Madonsela’s report “cannot be compared”. “The two reports that were adopted by [the] house were official records are consistent with what we said that the Cabinet as instructed by the public protector must quantify how much be paid back,” he reiterated. Sizani this week told the M&G that only Nhleko was out of stop with the ANC’s stance that Zuma should pay back a portion of the money spent on Nkandla.
Sizani today insisted that he was misquoted and that his views were not reflected accurately by the newspaper.
Meanwhile on Twitter, some agreed with Sizani and also believed that the reports are false. Most though critiqued the new South African ambassador to Germany’s assertions.
Can there be anything, ANYTHING, more ridiculous than Stone Sizani’s claim that ANC MPs always wanted Zuma to #PayBackTheMoney?
— Alex Eliseev (@alexeliseev) March 4, 2016
While others, like PowerFM’s Tlhabane, expressed that Sizani statements were contradictory.
@Powerfm987 Stone Sizani is insulting our intelligence. His argument is inconsistent with what they argued in court. Parli adopted .. (1/2).
— Mavosta (@Mavosta) March 4, 2016
(2/2) @Powerfm987 Nhleko’s report. Why did they do so if it was inconsistent with their findings?
— Mavosta (@Mavosta) March 4, 2016
I’m a little taken aback. If the ANC and all in sundry (Sizani) advised Zuma to pay back the money, why did they not say so in parly?
— Lesia (@lesiamolibeli) March 4, 2016