Ministers must take rap for Nkandla – Gwede Mantashe

2014-03-26 11:04

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ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe says government ministers should be held accountable for the Nkandla debacle instead of President Jacob Zuma.

Mantashe was speaking at a meeting of the Progressive Business Forum, a business forum aligned to the ANC, in Johannesburg last night.

“Many people are saying the president should have asked questions when the Nkandla construction was under way. But to me the question is: What happened to the line ministers who were responsible? Why should it be the responsibility of the president when there are ministers who oversee those departments?” Mantashe asked.

Read: Nkandla: How ministers, top officials erred

Mantashe then made an example of himself when he was a manager at the Development Bank of South Africa. “I knew I must fall on my sword when something went wrong. I took responsibility.”

Mantashe’s comments are consistent with an ANC approach that absolves Zuma of responsibility and blames bureaucrats and private contractors. But this was the first time such a senior leader said ministers should take responsibility.

Mantashe said he discovered that most of the relevant ministers had not been to Nkandla to see the construction for themselves. “I have said to the ministers: be careful of bureaucrats. They will sink you in broad daylight.”

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma should have asked questions about the scale, costs and affordability of security upgrades to his private Nkandla home.

Read: 10 things worth knowing about Madonsela’s Nkandla report

“It is also not unreasonable to expect that when news broke in December 2009 of alleged exorbitant amounts ... [it was] required of President Zuma to take reasonable steps to order an immediate inquiry into the situation and immediate correction of any irregularities and excesses,” Madonsela said in her report.

“His failure to act in protection of state resources constitutes a violation of ... executive ethics code and accordingly amounts to conduct that is inconsistent with his office as a member of Cabinet.”

Mantashe said the biggest problem that resulted in the Nkandla saga was the inflation of prices.

“This bottle of water that I have in my hand you can buy for R7 at a garage, but just because it is government that orders it for a function, it costs R31,” Mantashe said.

He called for tough action to be taken against those who he said had looted from Nkandla. “They must not just be arrested, but their properties must be attached.”

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