President Jacob Zuma submitted his report regarding the substantial amount of public funds spent on the Nkandla homestead and shifted the responsibility by doing so. Zuma presented a 20 page reply to the contemptuous probe by the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on overspending on the upgrades to the Zuma homestead.
The Nkandla property has been a controversial subject since Madonsela lifted the lid on the excessive amounts spent on the upgrades to the President’s homestead. The findings revealed that R246 million was used to upgrade the private home for Zuma and his family’s benefit. Zuma agreed to a special investigation into the exorbitant costs and in Dec. of last year appointed a Special Investigating Unit to probe the public protector’s results.
Madonsela reported that Zuma and his family had indeed benefited from the upgrade indulgence and recommended that the president repay some of the costs. During March of this year, Zuma stated that he never ordered the upgrades to Nkandla and should not be held responsible for costs thereof.
Zuma responded to Madonsela’s report by confirming that the special investigations unit should probe the findings and that he would respond when the unit completed their study. The unit presented their findings in July of this year after spending more than five months considering the public protector’s results.
Zuma received the final report in July of 2013 and provided the National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete his comprehensive response this week,shifting responsibility to government employees and private individuals involved in the Nkandla upgrade. Madonsela’s report stated that public works minister Geoff Doidge and his deputy was under no pressure regarding contractors and suppliers to undertake upgrades at Nkandla. However, in the response Zuma said Doidge may have exerted unnecessary force in the appointment of suppliers and contractors.
Zuma stated that 19 employees in the Department of Public Works would be issued with disciplinary documents. Zuma said the special investigating team would undertake the responsibility of preparing criminal documents against individuals cited in the report. Papers were served on architect Minenhle Makhanya suing him for R155 million by the state for his involvement with the Nkandla upgrade.
Zuma’s report revealed that fraudulent Tax Clearance Certificates were submitted by a number of contractors, and certain construction firms were not qualified to undertake the type of work they were hired to do. Overcharging by consultants was outlined.
The report did maintain several similarities between the special investigating unit and the joint standing committee report released in December 2013 and revealed that the State Security Agency did not vet some contractors. A contractor responsible for applying the security networks at Nkandla said nobody could enter the Zuma residence without clearance and shrugged off the Zuma response.
Zuma compared the public protector’s report to the special investigating unit report and summarized the responsibility for upgrades to Nkandla are from the public works department. Zuma briefly stated the history of Nkandla in his response, and the requirements to upgrade Nkandla since his return from exile. In the report Zuma reviewed his appointment to government and promotions over the years and the deemed necessity of increase in security requirements of high profile government members, and quoted sections of the constitution.
The special investigating unit report appears to be the authoritative report that overrides the public protector’s report shifting the responsibility of the Nkandla upgrades from Zuma to government officials. Finally, Zuma has shifted the responsibility to the minister of police who must now determine if Zuma is indeed responsible for the upgrades to Nkandla.
By Laura Oneale
Controversial Nkandla Jacob Zuma and the History if its Owner