The Special Investigating Unit will not probe allegations that President Jacob Zuma breached the Executive Members’ Ethics Act through the controversial R208 million Nkandla upgrades. Instead, the SIU will focus on the “unlawful” conduct of companies, their bosses and government officials involved in the development. A proclamation, which was signed by Zuma on December 18 and authorises the SIU to investigate among others "intentional or negligent loss of public money”, was published today. The proclamation’s terms of reference have focused on the findings of the inter-ministerial committee’s task team report into the Nkandla upgrades, which exonerated Zuma. The question of how much Zuma knew about the Nkandla development and whether he breached the Executive Members’ Ethics Act is being investigated by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. The proclamation also empowers the SIU to investigate whether any officials in the department of public works contravened tender rules and any interests they may have in companies awarded the contracts. The unit will also investigate all the payments made by the department’s suppliers “despite their non-performance, incomplete performance or defective performance”. The probe will also cover: » Overpayments or duplicate payments; » Failure by the department’s personnel to exercise proper control over the expenditure of the department’s funds; » The splitting of goods, works and services into items of lesser cost “as a means of avoiding compliance with procurement prescripts”; and » Suppliers that may be under the control of spouses, life partners, relatives, friends or associates of the department’s personnel. While the SIU will investigate “unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public”, it will not specifically investigate Zuma. The task team report published last week expressed concern regarding the escalating cost of Nkandla prices and found that none of Zuma’s homes were paid for by the state. Zuma has already rejected any involvement in the security upgrades to his house and told Parliament his family was paying a bond for his houses. Except for the ANC, political parties this past week labelled the inter-ministerial report a “whitewash” aimed at protecting Zuma from being accountable for the considerable costs of security upgrades to his home. Madonsela has promised to release her much-anticipated report “mid-January” amid fears by the ANC that any further delays to its release will cast more doubt on government’s own findings that no state funds had been used to pay for Zuma’s private homes.