Zuma’s delays made SIU look bad

2014-09-22 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had to send a warning letter to President Jacob Zuma to get him to answer to the unit’s questions on the public money that was spent at Nkandla.

Sister paper Beeld can today reveal:

•The SIU struggled for months to get the president’s co-operation in the unit’s probe of the R246 million spend at Zuma’s private estate in Nkanda;

• The president took so long to respond that the SIU was ready to release its report without the president’s reaction;

• Zuma was the last official to ­answer the SIU’s questions; and

• The delays caused by the president were an embarrassment for the SIU, as they damaged the unit’s integrity by creating the impression it was helping Zuma to delay the Nkandla probe. The SIU’s official deadline for its Nkandla report had expired in May, but the delaying tactics which the president’s legal team are best known for caused it the report to be made public only on August 20.

The SIU’s probe was one of three investigations launched into the millions spent at Zuma’s Nkandla estate, all three of which will be discussed by the second parliamentary ad hoc committee on the matter when it meets on Thursday.

The committee has until October 24 to recommend to Parliament what must happen next on the Nkandla issue.

Several senior sources told Beeld the head of the SIU, Vas Soni, had written to Zuma at the start of June to asked him to answer the 15 questions posed by the unit on Zuma’s involvement at the construction at Nkandla; and the allegations that he had interfered in the matter.

Soni became concerned when the media started to report his unit was deliberately delaying its probe into Nkandla to help Zuma delay the day that he had to give a written reply to the Nkandla report by the public protector.

Soni gave Zuma until August 8 to react to its questions, after which the unit would have published its report without Zuma’s answers. Zuma finally reacted on the last day with a three-page letter.

Soni earlier told Parliament the SIU report was also delayed by the lack of access to Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

In her report “Secure in Comfort” Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said her team had also struggled to get Zuma’s co-operation.

Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj did not comment yesterday.

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