Nkandla fund not about Jacob Zuma – trustees

2014-11-13 15:50

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The businesspeople who are raising funds to repay the money spent on President Jacob Zuma’s home claim they want to free up Parliament by putting the issue to rest.

“We [are] not raising the money to pay for Nkandla because we just want to help President Jacob Zuma, we [are] raising the money simply because we want to help the presidency irrespective of who the president is,” said Public Members Unit Team spokesperson Sylvester Mathebula today.

“Most of the time when the National Assembly sits we don’t believe, as the Public Members Unit Team, that we are moving forward the way we should be moving.”

He said Parliament was not making progress on other issues because opposition parties were too focused on the money spent on the upgrades to Zuma’s private home.

“We [are] raising funds so that ... the country can progress. This is the motive behind the initiative,” said Mathebula.

Last month, KwaZulu-Natal tycoon Philani Mavundla reportedly offered to raise funds and settle Zuma’s Nkandla debt.

Mavundla, a former African National Congress mayor of Greytown, admitted there had been behind-the-scenes discussions among Zuma’s backers about the debt.

The group would reportedly raise money in the same way it did with the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust set up in 2005 to raise money for Zuma’s defence against his fraud and corruption charges at the time. Mavundla was involved with the trust.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma “unduly benefited from the enormous capital investment” in the R246 million Nkandla upgrades, and ordered that he reimburse the state for private luxuries that were added to his home as part of the project.

This was rejected by Parliament’s ad hoc committee considering the outcome of various investigations into Nkandla when it discussed its draft report to the National Assembly last week.

Mathebula said the Public Members Unit Team had set up a text messaging system through which people could donate money to the Nkandla fund.

Anyone wanting to donate could SMS “Amandla” and donate either R5 or R30 to the fund.

He said other funding initiatives would include golf days and dinners.

“The purpose of this ... is that we can try and project to the South African government to say as root level people we think this is how our country should be run and what we want to see happening in Parliament. It projects how ordinary people feel,” he said.

A trust account, managed by Symes Attorneys, would regulate how the money collected was used.

Mathebula said auditors would also be appointed to audit the trust account.

“It’s public money and should be made public as well,” he said.

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