‘How much is owed?’

2015-02-13 00:00

CONSTRUCTION tycoon Philani ­Mavundla has accused Public Protector Thuli Madonsela of ignoring continuous requests to know exactly how much the president owes the state.

It was reported last year that the ­KwaZulu-Natal businessman was one of many South African businessmen who committed themselves to raising funds to pay for costs incurred during the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

Last year, Madonsela’s office found the president and his family benefited unduly from the estimated R246 million ­upgrades made to his personal home. Madonsela and several opposition parties called for the president to pay a portion of the money spent on his residence.

Madonsela’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe yesterday told The Witness the public protector deferred processes to Parliament “ages ago”. “But, anyone who is unclear about what the public protector said on the issues in question is free to access her report from our website.”

Pressure mounted last night as the Economic Freedom Fighters disrupted the State of the Nation address by asking the president questions about upgrades done at his rural homestead in Nkandla.

In October last year, Mavundla (47), a former Greytown mayor, wrote a letter to Madonsela’s office asking her how much the president owed for the security ­upgrades.

“She ignored it. We wrote a second letter and she also ignored it so we got our lawyers to write her a letter and she still hasn’t responded,” Mavundla claimed.

The owner of PG Mavundla Engineering said funds would be raised in a similar manner as the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust did in 2005, set up for Zuma’s defence against his fraud and corruption charges.

“Can you imagine if she had responded, the matter would have been resolved by now. The EFF would have had nothing to say last night. All they talk about lately is the Nkandla issue and when the president will pay back the money.”

When asked if the businessmen had started raising the money and how much had been raised towards the payment, ­Mavundla said, “Raising the money is not the issue, we would have gone to ­Madonsela and settled the matter a long time ago had she responded to our letters. South Africans need to know that the issue was never about the money, it has always been about embarrassing the president.”

He said the group’s intention was not to help the president pay back the money but, “we are saying, let’s help the country move forward from Nkandla”.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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