Nkandla announcement postponement 'beyond' Nhleko's control

2015-05-27 20:38
Nkosinathi Nhleko (GCIS)

Nkosinathi Nhleko (GCIS)

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Johannesburg – Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said on Wednesday night that reasons “beyond his control” led to him cancelling a news conference where he would have made public his long-awaited Nkandla report.

According to Nhleko's spokesperson Musa Zondi the need to follow parliamentary processes was why the announcement on whether President Jacob Zuma should repay some of the money spent on his private Nkandla homestead was postponed on Wednesday.

“Yes it has been postponed regrettably. This is to allow parliamentary processes to unfold,” Nhleko’s spokesperson Musa Zondi said in an SMS when asked why the release of Nhleko's report was moved to Thursday at 19:00.

Netwerk24 reported that questions were raised on Wednesday as to why Nhleko would make the report public before it was tabled in parliament. That created the impression that he was trying to bypass Speaker Baleka Mbete.

“They’ve finally realised that the report first has to be tabled in Parliament,” DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said.

“It’s remarkably disrespectful to Parliament to first have a press briefing.”

Having held the report back for several weeks may also have been a cynical attempt to stop the opposition from holding Zuma to account during the debate on the presidency’s budget vote speech this week, he said.

“It was held back for two or three weeks, and now it magically appears. The opposition could have used it to hold him to account.”

Nhleko had been expected to pronounce on whether Zuma should repay any of the R246m spent on so-called security upgrades to his Nkandla home.

In March last year, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela announced in her report, titled “Secure in Comfort”, that Zuma “unduly benefited” from the upgrades. She recommended that he repay that portion of the money not spent on security-related upgrades.

Political analyst Steven Friedman told eNCA that, while the postponement was likely due to a “non-communication”, it heightened suspicion around Nkandla.

“There probably isn’t anything sinister about it. It’s probably a non-communication, which is a problem, but not a major problem. But of course, given the amount of mistrust around Nkandla, it simply heightens the suspicion.

“It simply makes tomorrow [Thursday] evening more difficult than it would been beforehand. So I mean clearly, somebody has made a very serious mistake here... but it does place even more pressure on government tomorrow [Thursday] evening.”

Replying to the debate on his budget vote speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Zuma mocked opposition parties for their pronunciation of Nkandla, and their fixation on the subject.

“You know, some people who could not pronounce Nkandla, they’ve now learnt. Nkandla. Nkandla, Nkandla. Hehehe,” he said, waving his hands, grinning and and shaking his head.

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