Nkandla: Nkosinathi Nhleko to determine if Jacob Zuma is liable

2014-08-14 17:56

President Jacob Zuma wants new Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko to determine if he (Zuma) is liable and should repay any of the money spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead.

This is contained in a 19-page response to damning findings made by, among others, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on the R246 million spent upgrading his Nkandla homestead.

In her report released in April, Madonsela had ordered that Zuma pay for all non-security upgrades done at his home, which include a visitors’ centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, a culvert, a chicken run and extensive paving.

A rough estimation done by the Mail & Guardian put Zuma’s repayment portion at about R20 million.

But Zuma has left the final decision on whether he should pay or not to the new police minister.

“The minister of police, as the designated minister under the National Key Points Act, (must) report to cabinet on a determination to whether the President is liable for any contribution in respect of the security upgrades; having regard to the legislation, past practices, culture and findings contained in the respective reports,” said Zuma in his response.

The Public Protector had initially given the President 14 days to submit a response to Parliament. He finally did after missing a number of deadlines.

Zuma attributed this delay to him having to wait for a report from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) – which he had instructed to do its own probe of Nkandla – before he could submit a comprehensive response.

The SIU has given him a progress report. In it, the investigating unit found that:

•There was overcharging by some consultants who were entitled to charge 18.5% of the total value of the contract but inflated this to 25%.

•Public works employees overseeing Nkandla did not follow correct processes in the appointment of certain contractors.

•There may have been undue interference by former public works minister Geoff Doidge and his then deputy Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu in the appointment of certain contractors, suppliers or service providers.

The SIU, which has already recommended that 13 public works officials be charged for Nkandla-related irregularities, has extended the number of liable officials to 19.

Zuma also admits in his response to having introduced his personal architect Minenhle Makhanya to Doidge, the SAPS and other government officials who were conducting a preconstruction inspection of Nkandla. He said he did this so that they would be “apprised of the pre-existing plans for construction of the residences” to ensure that there would be as little disruption to the work as possible.

Madonsela was particularly scathing of Makhanya, finding that costs escalated astronomically after his involvement in the project. She said Zuma introduced him to public works, which then contracted him and paid him R19 million for the job.

The SIU has now instituted a civil claim against Makhanya, demanding he pay back the state R155 million.

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