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Zuma 'kicking for touch' in Nkandla response

2014-04-03 12:17

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma's assertion that he needs more information before he can act on the public protector's report criticising a state-funded security upgrade to his home has fuelled speculation that the findings could be ignored.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in a report last month that Zuma should pay back some of the R246m spent on upgrades, including a chicken run and swimming pool, to his Nkandla home.

Madonsela described the spending as excessive and accused Zuma of conduct "inconsistent with his office" but he has since denied any wrongdoing, arguing he was unaware of many of the upgrades and did not ask for them.

Zuma met a Wednesday deadline for him to respond to Parliament but said that before he acted he wanted to see the findings of a separate probe by the police's elite Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that Zuma ordered in December.

"I am intent on giving full and proper consideration to all these matters," he said in a statement.

"Upon receipt of the SIU report I will provide parliament with a further final report on the decisive executive interventions which I consider would be appropriate."

Delaying tactic

"The president and his legal team have perfected the art of kicking for touch," said Gary van Staden, a political analyst at NKC Independent Economists, said that "the president and his legal team have perfected the art of kicking for touch".

"It is quite clear that this is simply another delaying tactic ahead of the elections," Van Staden added.

Zuma has been pilloried over the Nkandla scandal - including by senior members within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) - just weeks before a May national election.

His response to Madonsela's damning conclusions prompted another backlash from critics who say corruption has worsened under Zuma and is undermining the popularity of the ANC.

"In a healthy society, wrongdoers accept the consequences of their actions," Mavuso Msimang, a senior ANC member and former interior ministry director general, wrote in an editorial in the Business Day newspaper.

"We in the ANC owe it to the people of South Africa to repudiate corruption. We owe it to ourselves as a movement to put a stop to the cancer that causes power to be abused," Msimang added.

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Read more on: jacob zuma  |  nkandla upgrade  |  politics

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