/ 13 May 2013

Public works’s Nkandla report to be kept secret

Zuma said he was still paying a bank bond for the five family buildings that form part of the compound.
Zuma said he was still paying a bank bond for the five family buildings that form part of the compound.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) received a letter from National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu that the Public Works department's task team report on the R206-million Nkandla upgrade would be referred to Parliament's intelligence standing committee.

"This means that the report will be referred to a committee which will meet behind closed doors, and members of the committee will not be able to share the contents of this report with the public. The committee is never open to the public," said parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko on Monday.

She said information would be "buried" and those responsible for the debacle would not be held accountable.

"According to the speaker's letter, a legal opinion was received, which supports the referral of the report to the joint standing committee on intelligence, and that the committee [will] then determine which components of the report can be referred to the appropriate portfolio committee," she said.

The DA said it had very little hope that the information would be made public, because it related to a national key point.

"Since the speaker has passed the buck [on] to the intelligence committee, it will be [at] their discretion as to what is made public," said Mazibuko.

She believed the report should instead be referred to the portfolio committees on public works, defence, and police.

"I will write to the speaker to request that he reconsider this decision and make public the legal opinion on which he is basing this decision."

Zuma unaware of costs
When allegations of the spending arose, the presidency denied knowing about the costs. However, documents later revealed that he was kept up to date.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi originally claimed that the work done at the Nkandla compound had complied with the requirements of the Ministerial Handbook, which sets a reviewable maximum expenditure on security at private homes of R100 000, although he later said the work had been in compliance with the National Key Points Act.

In March this year, the DA claimed the state paid 260% more on President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla than it did in securing a new prison in the Northern Cape.

DA MP Anchen Dreyer stunned the House when she revealed that R117-million was paid to provide security in Zuma's Nkandla home, compared to R45-million spent in securing the new jail in Kimberley.

Public protector's report
While giving a breakdown of the Nkandla security costs, Dreyer also revealed the names of companies that she said benefitted from the development and received payments for contracts that seemed to be for bona fide security measures at Nkandla.

In January, public protector Thuli Madonsela said her investigation into the alleged irregular spending would be released "no later than March 31" of this year, but it has not been completed yet.

Madonsela confirmed to the Mail & Guardian on Sunday her office was close to finishing the report but was still waiting on some information.

"There is very important information we are still waiting to be submitted. We will be able to release a preliminary report within two weeks should it arrive," she said.

Madonsela would not reveal which party still needs to make their submission.  – Sapa, M&G Reporter