/ 30 November 2013

Security cluster meet Mandosela over provisional Nkandla report

Security Cluster Meet Mandosela Over Provisional Nkandla Report

The security cluster ministers met public protector Thuli Madonsela on Friday following the Mail & Guardian's reporting on the provisional report on the Nkandla project, said government acting chief executive Phumla Williams.

"In the meeting, advocate Thuli Madonsela committed herself to following the proper process of handling such reports," said Williams.

"The security cluster wishes to reiterate the integrity of government's own investigation into the Nkandla security upgrades.

"This investigation established, among other things, that no state funds had been spent on improving President Jacob Zuma's private houses at Nkandla," she said.

The M&G reported on Friday that, according to a leaked copy of Madonsela's provisional report, Zuma received substantial personal benefits from the multimillion-rand upgrade to his homestead.

The government stated that the upgrades were essential for Zuma's security, but Madonsela reportedly found that a swimming pool, visitors' centre, amphitheatre, cattle kraal, marquee area, extensive paving, and new houses for relatives were included in the upgrade at "enormous cost" to the taxpayer.

Violating the executive ethics code
Madonsela reportedly recommended that the president be called to account by Parliament for violating the executive ethics code on two counts: failing to protect state resources, and misleading Parliament by suggesting he and his family paid for all non-security-related features.

Madonsela's spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said it was unethical and unlawful to publish the public protector's provisional reports.

"It violates section 7(2) of the public protector Act 23, 1994," she said.

"As a rule, we do not comment on whatever purports to be a provisional report of the public protector, as those are not reports of the public protector."

Williams said the government maintained its view that, while the security upgrades were justified, the manner in which the public works department handled the matter was inappropriate.

"The government investigation found there had been a number of irregularities in the appointment of service providers and the procurement of goods and services," she said.

Release of the report
The ANC called on Friday for restraint and caution until the public protector releases her report.

"The process pertaining to the Nkandla report, as per the office of the public protector, is still to be released by her office," said the party's spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu.

What has been published has not been proven to be the report, and neither had it been verified by the office of the public protector, he said.

He called on all South Africans, particularly those commenting on the story, to exercise restraint and caution until the public protector released her report.

"Failure to do so will prejudice the process as outlined by the public protector and all involved stakeholders."

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on Zuma to resign and the National Prosecuting Authority to press charges of corruption.

"[The] EFF reads Zuma's upgrade as an embezzlement of public funds for personal gain that amounts to the crime of corruption," said spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

"There should be no doubt that public funds have been knowingly used for personal gain … Zuma knew that he was using state resources, masquerading as a security upgrade, for his personal opulence."

'Zuma has misled Parliament'
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) called for a parallel investigation into Nkandla.

"The UDM is of the view that the South African Police Service and the Hawks must start familiarising themselves with dynamics of Nkandlagate so that a parallel investigation can take place whilst government is wrangling over the public protector report," said party leader Bantu Holomisa at the time.

"One thing is clear: President Zuma has misled Parliament and the nation.

"Unfortunately, this person is not accountable to the electorate, but to Luthuli House, and the African National Congress must take responsibility for the actions of their deployee," he said. – Sapa