South African president’s scandalous R215 million home built with tax-payers’ money, was written off by Minister of Police as necessary for the security of the president and his family.
A second report on South African president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead was released last week by Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko, which created an outcry of disappointment and embarrassment from the public.
Nhleko’s controversial report argues that all the features of Nkandla serve “clear” and ‘important” security tenacities. Nhleko concluded in his 50-page report that Zuma has no obligation to pay back any money for non-security features, as there are none.
Nhleko and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi even argued that more money should be spent to upgrade the president’s private rural homestead.
The first Nkandla report made by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was released in March 2014, which found that Zuma made unnecessary upgrades to Nkandla, costing tax-payers R215 million.
Madonsela concluded that Zuma has to “pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures as determined with the assistance of the National Treasury.”
Some non-security related features of Nkandla (a fire pool, amphitheatre, cattle kraal, chicken coup and a visitors’ centre) were described as unjustifiably benefitting the president and his family by Madonsela and it is these costs that should be repaid. The fire pool itself cost R3.9 million, but was justified as a security feature by Nhleko to help with fires.
After Madonsela’s report the African National Congress (ANC) ruling party used its dominance in parliament November 2014 to adopt a report which would clear Zuma of any misconduct.
The committee, which was made up of only ANC MPs shoved the blame of Nkandla on the architect, Minenhle Makhanya. The committee then took Makhanya to court to recover the costs.
Opposition parties have ignored the committee’s findings and called Nhleko’s report as “whitewash” and “insult” to South African citizens.
Madonsela argues that Nhleko’s report is full of “misstatements, inaccuracies, incomplete information, innuendos and false accusations.” She contests that the statement that no public money was used to fund Nkandla couldn’t be further from the truth.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu released a statement in which he conveyed his unhappiness about the report. The archbishop said public representatives have humiliated South Africans and Zuma laughed at those trying to hold him accountable for spending tax-payers’ money on Nkandla.
Various civil society organisations, opposition parties and the public protector are looking in to taking the case to court. It is evident that the Nkandla saga is far from over.
Published: The News Hub 1 June 2015