Nkandla report safe: Madonsela

By Drum Digital
13 November 2013

No threats to state security are contained in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's provisional report on Nkandla.

No threats to state security are contained in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's provisional report on Nkandla, according to court papers.

"Information and/or annexures which, in my view, could constitute a breach of security were specifically excluded," Madonsela said in an affidavit filed in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon.

"I reiterate that it will be apparent to the court on a mere reading that I do not in my provisional report quote or otherwise disclose facts impinging in any way on a legitimate claim to state security."

In papers opposing an urgent application to prevent her from releasing the provisional report into the R206 million upgrade to President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, Madonsela said she attached a draft report to a confidential affidavit.

"I consider it critical... to point out that I am constrained by the circumstances to place the report before the court," she said.

"I do so to demonstrate the absence of any factual foundation for the applicants' alleged concerns and to eliminate any doubt that may otherwise have been created in this respect through their failure to place the provisional report before the court."

Madonsela's provisional report was given to the state security ministerial cluster on November 1. This followed a special request that it have access to the report ahead of all other parties to establish if its contents would compromise Zuma's security. The return date for comment was November 6.

The cluster filed an urgent application on Friday to prevent Madonsela from releasing the report. The High Court in Pretoria postponed the matter to the end of this week.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a founding affidavit that Zuma's safety would be compromised if Madonsela released the provisional report without state comment.

Madonsela said the version of the report that was filed would provisionally only serve before the court.

"It is... obviously essential that this court itself be able to adjudge whether any proper basis for the applicants' concerns exist in terms of the content of the provisional report to be disclosed to interested parties."

She said the decision to determine whether the report dealt appropriately with potential security sensitive information was hers.

"The Constitution is clear: no person or organ of state may dictate to, or interfere with, the functioning of my office," she said.

"My decision to place the provisional report before the court must be viewed in this light."

Madonsela said her investigating team was "frustrated and in many instances obstructed" while conducting the probe.

"Many of these frustrations are detailed in the executive summary to the provisional report," she said.

"These include only being given sight of certain documents for short periods and in the presence of government officials, and key members of the investigation team being excluded from important meetings."

She said when the report was being formulated, she considered possible security concerns.

"I submit that this would be evident to the court itself on reading the provisional report. It will be evident that no such detail is included."

Madonsela said the cluster had failed to disclose a series of meetings it had with her, which led to her releasing the provisional report to them.

"They have had months if not years to be acquainted with what they see as potential security issues, and were on notice from at the latest 8 August 2013 to consider a provisional report with this in mind."

She said the provisional report was compiled precisely with a view to ensure that concerns regarding security did not arise.

"I repeat that the exercise of scrutinising the report with this in mind would be a confined matter requiring a few hours and, at most, two days."

She said she had a meeting with the ministers of state security, public works, and police on April 22. A second meeting with the security cluster was held on May 31.

"The security ministers thereafter agreed to co-operate with the investigation and agreed to provide the information requested," Madonsela said.

"It is indeed surprising that claims of possible security breaches were ever raised at all, given that the president's privately appointed architect, with absolutely no security expertise, let alone clearance, was tasked with overseeing the whole Nkandla project on behalf of the department of public works."

She said the delay in the finalisation of the report increased the risk of it being leaked.

-by Sapa

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