Nkandla: A tale of two reports

2013-12-22 14:00

One is a provisional Public Protector report leaked to the Mail & Guardian; the other is a finalised report by a government task team.

The first caused outrage and consternation with its contents. Its leak enraged Thuli Madonsela, who blamed the ANC. The ANC blamed Madonsela and her office.

The second has been widely dismissed by South Africans as a whitewash designed to shield President Jacob Zuma.

Madonsela has promised to release her final report in “mid-January”. This week, she declined to comment about the task team’s report.

So what are the major differences between Madonsela’s provisional report and that released by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on Thursday?

Public Protector

Zuma told Parliament last year that he paid for all structures at Nkandla not related to security. But Madonsela and her team found that there were a number of non-security-related elements which were paid for from the public purse.

Madonsela outlined these as follows and tracked the escalating costs throughout:

»?The swimming pool (or fire pool, as government calls it) was initially estimated at R550?000, but together with basement parking, the cost climbed to R2.8 million.

»?The visitors’ centre and control room were meant to cost R5.4 million. By the end of the project, it had climbed to R6.7 million.

»?The amphitheatre formed part of the R68 million billed as “general works”

»?Cattle kraal – R1.2 million

»?Marquee area – no separate costing

»?Extensive paving – no separate costing

»?Chicken run – no separate costing

»?New houses for two relocated relatives – R7.9 million

»?Madonsela found that these exceeded security needs and unduly added value to the president’s private property

The task team

Nxesi listed many of the same features as Madonsela, but he and his colleagues defended each of them as necessary for the president’s security.

»?The fire pool was necessary because most houses in the area have thatched roofs. If a fire breaks out, the water will be used to put it out, Nxesi said.

»?The original kraal was too close to the high-security area and the cattle would have tampered with sensitive electronic equipment. The kraal had to be moved and a culvert built to prevent the equipment being disturbed.

»?The retaining wall – “mistakenly” described as an amphitheatre – was designed for “ground protection”.

»?The visitors’ centre – the large number of people who visit Zuma in Nkandla posed a security “challenge”, so a waiting room was built to manage them.

»?Chicken run – it was built to replace a number of structures scattered all around the property. These could have been potential hiding places for intruders, Nxesi said.

»?Relocating Zuma’s relatives – this had to be done, the task team explained, because the families were too close to the high-security zone and their homes were obstructing the surveillance cameras. – Additional reporting by Xolani Mbanjwa

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