DA presses inquiry into Zuma’s Nkandla homestead


JOHANNESBURG: (By Nina Maria)– Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has demanded an investigation into whether President Jacob Zuma misled Parliament about the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

“I have today written to the speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu to request that an urgent resolution be placed on the agenda… which would establish a full-scale investigation into whether… Zuma misled Parliament,” she said in a statement.

“I will also request that all documentation, including the public works task team report, into… Zuma’s private residence be submitted to the National Assembly without delay to form the basis of this investigation.”

Earlier, the Mai l& Guardian reported that the public works department released 42 files with over 12 000 pages on the Nkandla upgrade to the newspaper.

They were released following a request for information, under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, about public spending on Zuma’s private residence in KwaZulu-Natal.

The request was submitted a year ago and pointed out that the act obliged the department to redact parts of the requested information related to security, while making the rest available.

The documents were released to the newspaper two weeks ago, and related to bid evaluations, needs assessments, contracts awarded and their values, and to whether costs were allocated for public or private accounts.

‘Top secret’

The public works task team report was declared top secret and closed to public scrutiny.

The files provided to the newspaper contained numerous references to documents or annexures which were not disclosed.

The Mail & Guardian reported that there appeared to be no security-related basis for their redaction.

There was nothing in the Nkandla files that could not have been publicly disclosed, except for how senior officials and politicians “scrambled” to meet deadlines set by Zuma, and how short-cuts were taken in tendering processes.

Money was also shifted from other programmes to accommodate the unbudgeted spending.

The Mail & Guardian reported that the cost of the Nkandla homestead ballooned from R27.8m in 2009 to a projected total of about R270m by October 2012.

The official expenditure as of June this year was reportedly R210.5m. This did not appear to include bills yet to be paid.

The newspaper further reported that Zuma was expected to pay five percent of the security-related improvements. It said a top-secret March 2011 memorandum split the bill by allocating R203m to the public purse, and R10.5m for Zuma’s account.

Important info missing

Mazibuko said the newspaper’s report showed that Zuma had omitted important information when questioned by Parliament about the upgrade.

“These reports show that he was not merely a bystander as he claimed in his reply to my parliamentary questions on 15 November 2012,” Mazibuko said.

She quoted Zuma as saying in Parliament: “My residence in Nkandla has been paid for by the Zuma family. All the buildings and every room we use in that residence were built by ourselves as a family and not by government.

“I have never asked government to build a house for me, and it has not done so. The government has not built a home for me.”

Mazibuko said the magnitude of the newspaper’s revelations on Friday brought the office of the president into “massive disrepute”.

“Parliament must take urgent action and send the message that corruption at any level will not be tolerated,” she said.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj declined to comment.

“You say the request was sent to the speaker. The speaker can respond to that matter. There is no need for us to respond to that matter,” he said.

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