Nxesi won't budge on Nkandla report

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi. (Gallo)

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi. (Gallo)

Nxesi was again pressed on Tuesday to release it to Parliament's public works portfolio committee – even with those parts dealing directly with security excised – but he told MPs to be patient.

They should await public protector Thuli Madonsela's report into security upgrades costing R206-million at Zuma's homestead in the KwaZulu-Natal hamlet, he said.

"It is insensitive to request a document which deals with the security of the head of state. It is as simple as that," he said.

"So my argument is let's wait for the public protector and the parliamentary processes to take their own course ... let's wait for those reports and then once they come, let's deal with those issues."

Nxesi confirmed that the report – which contains the findings of a government task team's investigation into spending at Nkandla – was handed to speaker Max Sisulu.

The minister has recommended that it be given to Parliament's joint standing committee on intelligence for scrutiny.
On Tuesday he reminded MPs that all political parties were represented on that committee.

'Relentless cover-up'
Nxesi was asked for the report by Democratic Alliance MP Anchen Dreyer, who has accused government of a "relentless cover-up" of what transpired at Nkandla.

Dreyer also asked whether the Special Investigating Unit had received a presidential proclamation enabling it to probe spending at Nkandla, following recent reports that it had been waiting in vain for more than six months.

Nxesi answered by saying the president, not public works, had to issue such a proclamation.

"That question cannot be asked to this one, because it is not us who are signing that. Proclamations are dealt with at another level. That question can be asked at that level, not from us."

He pointed out that the department had been co-operating with Mandonsela, who recently conducted an in loco inspection at Nkandla. She said in July her report was 99% ready.

"On this particular matter, even the public protector has been able to say these departments have been co-operating in terms of this information."

Massive upgrade
The cost of the upgrade has caused public outrage, which grew worse in June when Nxesi told Parliament that the report had been classified.

Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin has said the findings indicated over-charging by contractors.

The department was briefing MPS on progress in fighting what Nxesi termed "deep-rooted" fraud and corruption, and said 79 investigations out of 225 started since 2009 had been completed.

The minister reiterated it would take an estimated seven years to clean up public works.

"The reconstruction of that department might take seven years because we have identified what we call very deep problems, structural problems ... that is not going to take us overnight." – Sapa

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