Mazibuko’s ‘urgent’ question to Parliament: Did Zuma mislead us?

2013-07-05 19:20

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko wants an investigation into whether President Jacob Zuma misled Parliament about the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

“I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu to request that an urgent resolution be placed on the agenda ... which would establish a full-scale investigation into whether ... Zuma misled Parliament,” she said in a statement.

“I will also request that all documentation, including the public works task team report, into ... Zuma’s private residence be submitted to the National Assembly without delay to form the basis of this investigation.”

Today, the Mail&Guardian reported that the public works department released 42 files with over 12 000 pages on the Nkandla upgrade to the newspaper.

They were released following a request for information, under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, about public spending on Zuma’s private residence in KwaZulu-Natal.

The paper reported that the documents suggest Zuma, who is referred to as the “the Principal”, played “an important role in how the process unfolded and had an input in some of the decisions”.

This is based on, for example, an October 2009 letter which contains the phrase “by instruction of ... President Zuma” and a memo stating what “the principal” had indicated to then deputy public works minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

The Mail&Guardian reported that the cost of the Nkandla homestead ballooned from R27.8 million in 2009 to a projected total of about R270 million by October 2012.

The official expenditure as of June this year was reportedly R210.5 million. This did not appear to include bills yet to be paid.

The newspaper further reported that Zuma was expected to pay five percent of the security-related improvements. It said a top-secret March 2011 memorandum split the bill by allocating R203 million to the public purse, and R10.5 million for Zuma’s account.

Mazibuko said the newspaper’s report showed that Zuma had omitted important information when questioned by Parliament about the upgrade.

“These reports show that he was not merely a bystander as he claimed in his reply to my parliamentary questions on 15 November 2012,” Mazibuko said.

She quoted Zuma as saying in Parliament: “My residence in Nkandla has been paid for by the Zuma family. All the buildings and every room we use in that residence were built by ourselves as a family and not by government.

“I have never asked government to build a house for me, and it has not done so. The government has not built a home for me.”

Mazibuko said the magnitude of the newspaper’s revelations brought the office of the president into “massive disrepute”.

“Parliament must take urgent action and send the message that corruption at any level will not be tolerated,” she said.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj declined to comment.

“You say the request was sent to the Speaker. The Speaker can respond to that matter. There is no need for us to respond to that matter,” he said.

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