Police Minister Fikile Mbalula may be asked to appear before Parliament’s police portfolio committee to answer questions surrounding high-level presidential protection afforded to African National Congress (ANC) presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the DA said on Thursday.
The party’s shadow minister of police, Zakhele Mbhele, said he would write to the committee’s chairperson, Francois Beukman, to request that Mbalula be urgently summoned to account to MPs after he failed to answer written parliamentary questions posted by the DA regarding the controversial blue-light convoy and security detail.
It was reported last month that Dlamini-Zuma continued to receive VIP protection from the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) despite government previously stating that taxpayers would no longer be paying for the service after her term as the chairperson of the African Union (AU) ended in February.
On Wednesday, acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane confirmed to the police committee Dlamini-Zuma was still receiving protection from the unit, saying the police’s assessments had confirmed security threats against the ANC official.
But opposition parties believe the undisclosed security threats are being used by President Jacob Zuma and his faction in the ANC to reinforce Dlamini-Zuma’s unofficial presidential campaign even though she does not hold any position in government.
“Now almost a month since the Dlamini-Zuma ‘VIP’ scandal was exposed, Minister Fikile Mbalula has done nothing to stop it. This is an outrageous failure by the Minister, as VIP Presidential Protection costs hundreds of thousands, if not millions of rands, for a person who holds no public office in service of the people of South Africa – she is merely an ANC party official,” Mbhele said.
The DA said it wanted Mbalula to explain to Parliament:
- Why Dlamini-Zuma continues to receive presidential protection since this scandal was exposed almost a month ago;
- Who authorised the continuation of her presidential protection since the scandal was exposed; and
- On what basis Dlamini-Zuma deserves the highest protection the state can offer: the Presidential level of security.
Mbhele said the DA was yet to receive answers from the minister on how much has thus been spent from public money protecting Dlamini-Zuma and why the PPU continues to protect and transport her around the country.
“The fact is that prominent leaders in South Africa, of political parties and other organisations, and those who hold seats in government, are threatened on a daily basis, yet are not afforded any protection services.
“Their safety is ignored, while Dlamini-Zuma has been afforded the Rolls-Royce of safety at the Presidential level, for no apparent reason other than that she is an ANC insider,” Mbhele said.
Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are seen as frontrunners for the ruling party’s top job.
The ANCYL, ANC Women’s League, and President Zuma reportedly back the former AU chair to succeed her ex-husband when he steps down in December as ANC president, including the so-called “Premier’s League” – an informal ANC lobby group consisting of the party’s provincial chairpersons and premiers of North West, Mpumalanga and Free State.