New Nkandla report vindicates Zuma: ANC
The South African government spent R206 million on security upgrades and consultants for President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said yesterday.
Included in this amount was R135 million for “operational needs”, and R71 million for consultants and security features such as bullet proof windows and security fencing, he told reporters in Pretoria.
However no houses were built using public money.
“There is no evidence that any house belonging to the president was built with public money,” Nxesi said, following an investigation by a task team.
The renovations at the president’s rural residence became a bone of contention in 2012, when it was reported that over R250-million of public funds would be used for the upgrades.
The report instituted by Nxesi confirmed the state had paid R206 million for the security measures.
“This report vindicates the President and our belief in the innocence of the President in this regard, on what he consistently said were lies and that he personally built his residence and that the government only built security features that are prescribed in relevant security prescripts,” spokesman of the ANC, Jackson Mthembu said in a statement yesterday.
The party welcomed the decision to probe irregularities in the awarding of tenders to service providers and consultants who worked on security upgrades at Nkandla.
However, The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is sceptical of the credibility of the Department of Public Works’ investigation into the public funds spent on the security upgrades at Nkandla.
“It is after all impossible to sit in judgement of oneself. The report by a task team, that we hear included “professionals with legal, financial management control, auditing, security, physical protection and construction and maintenance expertise”, will be released this morning. Who are these professionals, what is their level of independence and what were the task team’s terms of reference?
“Even thought the public protector and the auditor-general are still investigating ‘various aspects’ of the reported upgrades, we are doubtful that the South African public will ever know the truth of how taxpayer’s money was spent at Nkandla.
“The only way to give credibility to this palace exercise is to institute an Independent Judicial Commission of Inquiry where witnesses can testify so that the public can hear who was involved in ‘upgrading’ Nkandla and where the money came from,” said the UDM in a statement.
In November 2012 police prevented DA leader Helen Zille and her entourage from approaching President Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. Officers formed a human chain across the road, outside Zuma’s residence, in the village of KwaNxamalala. Police had several armoured Nyala personnel carriers, two trucks with water canons, and a helicopter in the area.
Service providers ‘questionable’
Nxesi said the choice of service providers for the upgrade was questionable.
“It’s clear there were a number of irregularities with regards to appointment of service providers,” he added.
The irregularities would be referred to the Special Investigations Unit, the auditor general and South African Police Service for investigation, he said.
Nxesi also claimed Zuma was not involved in the choice of service providers at the residence.
“President Zuma is not involved in this process whatsoever, the president is not involved at all. He could be informed about the upgrades, but not about the details,” he added.
Fifteen service providers and consultants were employed.
The task team was appointed in November after the costs of Zuma’s residential complex caused an outcry. The matter was also raised in Parliament.
Nxesi said Zuma’s home, like those of former presidents and former deputy presidents, had been declared a national key point.
The task team was told to ascertain in detail the security assessments and recommendations made by state security agencies.
“The investigation revealed that an approval was granted to the regional bid adjudication committee to adopt a negotiated nomination procedure in appointing contractors, despite this being a national project,” Nxesi said.
Nxesi also defended the move to provide extensive security at the president’s home, as it was declared a national key point.
“This is not the most expensive security upgrade carried out by the state, the issue is wherever the president is we need to make sure there is security,” he added.
The Mail & Guardian reported last year that Zuma was indeed provided with exhaustive details about progress on the Nkandla security project in November 2010.
The documents, which refer euphemistically to the Nkandla expansion as “prestige project A”, reveal how Zuma’s supposed private contribution dwindled by half from more than R20-million to slightly more than R10-million, while the total costs more than doubled.