‘Modesty’ to ‘indefensible extravagance’

2014-09-13 00:00

THE Special Investigating Unit’s final report said there came a point in the security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla when “reasonable modesty gave way to indefensible extravagance”.

The SIU report blamed this on the appointment of the professional team — “who were appointed by the president in his private capacity” — to overall control of the project, including the state’s spending.

The SIU said the “huge increase” in costs could be attributed the “addition” of structures including support staff accommodation; allowance for relocation of the three households, plus a visitor’s centre and waiting lounge.

“The estimated costs of all these proposed additions was R48 417 685.”

Secondly, there were further increases in the costs of “shaded parking for VIPs and the swimming pool; and landscaping and storm water control” while the consultants’ “costs had also increased by R11 888 259.”

The SIU report said that when officials raised concerns about “the lack of planning and financial management … they were simply removed from the project.”

The SIU said state officials “could no longer be held accountable for specific decisions or actions that were taken in the upgrading process”.

The report said that both the SAPS and the Public Works Department officials “voluntarily” ceded their powers and “abdicated” their responsibilities in failing to ascertain “precisely what security upgrades were to be implemented.

“In fact the Public Works never quite finalised the planning,” said the report.

“This resulted in the scope of the project not being fully known at any stage of the project: bizarrely, the scope changed constantly — almost till the end!”

So did the costs, which ballooned from an initial estimate of nearly R28 million to over R216 million. The report details a number of examples where extra costs were incurred contrary to recommended security requirements.

In 2009 the SAPS proposed reinforcing the walls of all bedrooms but in 2010 “accepted the inclusion of a bunker instead”. A 63-square-metre underground bunker was duly constructed, but beyond the recommendation “three lifts and an exit tunnel” were added at a cost of R21 million.

Six roads were also constructed, costing nearly R9 million where the SAPS had recommended a “path between inner and outer fence for patrol purposes”.

Landscaping that was not requested by either the SAPS or the SANDF was done at a cost of over R7 million.

Nor were VIP parking or a fire pool requested, though these were constructed for nearly R4 million.

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