Zuma raised 'disturbing questions'

2014-10-20 19:31
President Jacob Zuma (File: GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma (File: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma's reported comparison between the construction of George Airport and money spent on his Nkandla home raises "disturbing questions", the FW de Klerk Foundation said on Monday.

"If he is correctly reported, the president’s comments raise disturbing questions regarding his views on the distinction between proper state expenditure on bona fide projects and expenditure that will result in his own enormous and unjustifiable enrichment," executive director Dave Steward said in a statement.

The state had a duty to provide official accommodation and transportation for a president while in office and had a duty to provide security to retired presidents.

"However, something must be seriously wrong if the provision of such security leads to state expenditure that vastly exceeds the value of the property that is being protected as well as expenditure on the security of other former presidents," he said.

Beeld reported on Monday that Zuma compared the construction of George Airport for apartheid-era head of state PW Botha, and his own home in Nkandla.

Answering a question during a Sunday lunch to mark media freedom day, he said he lived in a state house without paying rent and travelled on state planes without paying for it.

"Is this an unfair advantage?" he asked.

When it was pointed out that his Nkandla dwelling was a personal home, not state property, Zuma said it was the state's duty to protect the president and deputy president.

Zuma said the airport in George was not built for economic reasons. "It is because Botha lived there [Wilderness]."

George airport was built in 1977 as an exact replica of the Keetmanshoop Airport in Namibia. At the time it was built Botha was minister for defence, a position he held for 14 years. He became the country's prime minister in 1978.

He wanted to know why there was so much criticism over Nkandla saying: "Is Nkandla not meant to produce a President?"

The government spent R246m on upgrades to Zuma's Nkandla home. The public protector recommended that he repay that part of the money not spent on security.

Steward said any state action which resulted in the enrichment of a political office bearer was fundamentally wrong and unacceptable.

He said Botha was not given ownership of George Airport and derived no personal benefit from it. It was not built just for Botha's personal travel needs.

"What emerges from President Zuma’s remarks is his growing sensitivity to media criticism over Nkandla; his, and the ANC’s failure to accept that the expenditure of R246m on his private residence is indefensible; and the lack of credibility of the findings of organisations like the SIU that are ultimately under the president’s control," Steward said.

Read more on:    fw de klerk  |  jacob zuma  |  george  |  politics  |  nkandla upgrade

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