Zuma misses DA's Nkandlagate deadline

President Jacob Zuma may face formal court action over the financing of upgrades at his rural residence in Nkandla. (Rogan Ward, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma may face formal court action over the financing of upgrades at his rural residence in Nkandla. (Rogan Ward, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma may face court action over the financing of upgrades at his rural residence in Nkandla if the Democratic Alliance gets its way.

On Sunday, the opposition party gave Zuma 72 hours to respond to questions it sent on October 16 surrounding the financing of his rural homestead at kwaNxamalala, Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, insisting the president answer to South Africans for "stealing their money for his personal use".

But Zuma and his office failed to respond by the deadline on Wednesday.

"As we have not received any response from the president or the department of public works, the DA will now take the matter up legally," Geordin Hill-Lewis, chief of staff to DA leader Helen Zille told the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday.

"We will be advised accordingly by our legal team and make a decision as to what is the best course of action to follow," said Hill-Lewis.

The ultimatum followed the failure of a planned DA inspection on Sunday of Zuma's private residence, where improvements worth an estimated R248-million are reportedly being carried out at the state's expense.

ANC supporters prevented the DA from approaching Zuma's homestead, blocking the road leading to the property.

'Apparent ultimatum'
In response to questions from the M&G, Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the president or his office are yet to respond to the "apparent ultimatum" as the DA had not followed the correct channels.

"The obligation is on them to follow due process in issuing any ultimatum to the president," he added.

"If they have questions, they must be addressed to the correct authority. Nobody issues ultimatums through the media, especially to a head of state."

Maharaj said it was the up to the DA to decide what the next course of action on the matter is, as the presidency "are not going to advise the DA what to do".

The DA contested that Zuma and the department of public works did not follow legal processes within legislation set out in the National Key Points Act of 1980.

What the Act says
Although Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has consistently said the upgrades were undertaken within the context of providing security for a national key point – of which the onus is on the state – the Act would suggest otherwise.

In the Act it is stipulated that the owner of any property that has been declared a national key point be responsible for any security upgrades deemed necessary.

Section 3.1 of the Act reads: "The owner of a national key point concerned shall after consultation with the minister, at his own expense, take steps to the satisfaction of the minister in respect of the security of the said key point."

The Act further stipulates that if the owner is unable to undertake the necessary security upgrades stipulated by the Act, the state may undertake them but the owner will remain liable for the upgrades.

"It needs to come to light that the state paid for this without correct procedures being followed. This needs to be addressed accordingly with legal action," Hill-Lewis added.

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