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19 Mar 2014 18:07
Public protector Thuli Madonsela. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)
The presidency says public protector Thuli Madonsela's report on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home would be used as an added tool to address claims of maladministration.
It noted in a statement on Wednesday that Zuma directed the Special Investigating Unit in December to probe alleged maladministration in the security upgrades at Nkandla. He also appointed an inter-ministerial task team to look into the matter.
"In this context, the public protector's report will be an additional tool which will fall under the consideration of president Zuma in addressing allegations of maladministration."
The presidency said Zuma "has consistently been concerned about the allegations of impropriety around procurement in the Nkandla project".
'Response in due course'
Zuma would study the findings and recommendations of the public protector in the context of the existing government interventions.
"[He] will communicate his response in due course."
The presidency said chapter 9 institutions, such as the public protector, were vital for strengthening democracy.
"President Zuma reaffirms the important role of the chapter 9 institutions and emphasises that the country should take pride in their existence, as we celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy and guard against the abuse and misuse of these institutions."
In the damning report released on Wednesday, entitled "Secure in comfort", Madonsela also found Zuma had contravened the executive ethics code because he failed to stop the spiralling costs of the upgrades, as is his duty as a member of the Cabinet.
Seven investigation requests
Madonsela said the cost to be paid back should include some items, which were not "accepted as" security features.
" … The amount in question should be based on the cost of the installation of some or all the items that can't conscionably be accepted as security measures.
These included the visitor's centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool and amphitheatre … The president and his legal advisors did not dispute this during the investigation."
Madonsela received seven requests to investigate Nkandla in 2011 and 2012.
Zuma also said the state had not built any parts of Nkandla for him and his family.
"This was not true. It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the president and his family a visitor's centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool and amphitheatre. The president and his family clearly benefited from this," said Madonsela.
'A bona fide mistake'
But Zuma told her that, while he was addressing Parliament, he was not "thinking about the visitor's centre".
"While his conduct could accordingly be legitimately construed as misleading Parliament, it appears to have been a bona fide mistake and I am accordingly unable to find that his conduct was in violation of … the executive ethics code."
Madonsela found that Zuma was aware of the scale and cost of the construction at Nkandla throughout and that he should have taken steps to stop the escalating costs.
Instead, Zuma regularly complained that the upgrades were not happening fast enough.
"The fact that he complained on more than one occasion of the lack of progress made with the project and the impact that it had on his private life and that of his family clearly shows that he was aware of the measures taken and that status of implemented." – Sapa, additional reporting by Sarah Evans
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