Madonsela interviews Zuma on Nkandla

2013-12-24 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Public Protector (PP) has interviewed President Jacob Zuma about the construction work at this private estate at Nkandla. What the president said will only be made public at the end of January when Thuli Madonsela releases her final report on the Nkandla project.

Madonsela said her final report will be released during the third or fourth week of January.

The report was expected earlier and Madonsela said the delay was caused by officials in the security sector who were not available for her investigations.

This sector — comprising the departments of Police, Defence and State Security — was involved in the security upgrades of Zuma’s private estate.

“We could not complete the security assessment as the officials were not available. We had only one meeting with them and would have had a second, but they did not arrive.” She said the officials also did not supply the requested documentation, which caused more delays.

Madonsela said she did not know why the officials did not co-operate. She said she saw some of them on TV when the government task team made its report on Nkandla public last Thursday.

Madonsela confirmed that she had also interviewed all the former ministers of the Department of Public Works, including Geoff Doidge, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, a former deputy minister.

The current Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, on Thursday confirmed the government task team had not interviewed any of these three officials and did not pose questions to Zuma.

The government task team, however, singled out Doidge and Bogopane-Zulu for further investigation, by amongst others, the Special Investigations Unit.

Media reports over the weekend stated that Bogopane-Zulu was upset that her name is being linked to the Nkandla project, and that she had not been contacted by the governmental task team investigating the matter.

She said she had not even seen the report that states she must be investigated further, saying she had a clear conscience as she had only done her job at Nkandla.

Doidge, currently ambassador to Sri Lanka, said he had heard he will be investigated by the Special Investigations Unit and the auditor-general and had no qualms.

The government task team’s report is a strong reminder of a similar investigation undertaken after the Guptas landed their privately chartered jet at the Waterkloof air force base earlier this year.

In that investigation the main role players, including the ministers and the Guptas, were not interviewed. Both investigations were led by ministers in the security sector.

Both reports cleared President Zuma of any personal involvement.

Rapport reported on Sunday that Zuma had to have known about the extensive security measures being implemented at his Nkandla estate, as a cabinet’s decision in 2003 required that the minister of Police — currently Nathi Mthethwa — first submit the final security plan for Nkandla to the president for approval.

This document does not place limits on the costs of security measures, but clearly lists which procedures must be followed when implementing any security measures.

A government spokesperson, Nikelwa Tengimfene, however said this was only one interpretation of the 2003 policy document.

Tengimfene told Rapport the security measures implemented at huge cost at Nkandla were decided by the Police, State Security and Public Works department and had nothing to do with the president.

Nxesi also said Zuma was not aware of the costs of the security measures.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj declined to comment yesterday and would not say whether Zuma had spoken to the public protector.

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