Homestead exposé sparks outrage

The Mail & Guardian’s Nkandla report last week provoked widespread reaction, with commentators describing the latest revelations about the multimillion-rand upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s homestead as “a scandal of mega proportions” and slamming the perceived government cover-up.

Social networks and party websites erupted with indignation over the M&G’s coverage, based on 12 000 pages of documents extracted from the public works department by an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelen­zima Vavi tweeted: “After reading M&G report on Nkandla — can say can’t wait for public protector report on this issue.”

“This is an outrage,” wrote Agang leader Mamphele Ramphele, in a statement on her party’s website. She called on Zuma directly to “come clean and explain to citizens the … issues raised by the M&G exposé”.

The issues included short cuts on tendering processes in a scramble to meet Zuma’s deadlines and the “reluctance to allocate costs to Zuma, including for the building of a new cattle kraal, a plant nursery, a road network and other improvements that will benefit his family long after his presidency. “This is a scandal of mega proportions,” she said.

Her concerns were echoed by United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, who said that the reports begged for an explanation from the ruling party. “What is nauseating is the energy that has gone into covering this thing up. It is the ANC who deploys Zuma. The ANC — more even than Zuma — owes the nation an explanation.”

'Brings SA into disrepute'
The Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, said that “the magnitude of [the] revelations brings the office of the president of the republic into massive disrepute”.

The DA’s spokesperson on public works, Anchen Dreyer, said this week that the party would continue to press for a response to its application under the Act to gain access to the report by a task team appointed by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi.

The report, classified as top secret, has been released only to Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence and the public protector.

“This scandal is now reaching a tipping point. If Minister Nxesi has nothing to hide, he would be well advised to stop his relentless cover-up,” said Dreyer.
 

 

 

 


 

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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Stefaans Brummer
Stefaans is an old hand at investigations. A politics and journalism graduate, he cut his reporting teeth at the Cape Argus in the tumultuous early 1990s; then joined the Mail & Guardian as democracy dawned in April 1994. For the next 16 years a late-1990s diversion into television and freelancing apart, the M&G was his journalistic home and launch pad for award-winning investigations focusing on the nexus between politics and money. Stefaans has co-authored exposés including Oilgate, the Selebi affair, Chancellor House and significant breaks in the arms deal scandal. Stefaans and Sam Sole co-founded amaBhungane in 2010. He divides his time between the demands of media bureaucracy which he detests, coaching members of the amaBhungane team, and his first love, digging for dung.

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