Nkandlagate: Zuma claims ignorance

2012-10-11 07:37

President Jacob Zuma has defended the multi-million rand government splurge on his Nkandla homestead, saying he doesn’t know how much it cost.

He also said building a home and putting in place security measures in rural areas is more expensive than in urban areas.

Asked about the matter at a business breakfast in Midrand organised by The New Age this morning, Zuma said, “I don’t know how much it costs”.

He said Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and his officials would know the cost. “I don’t question when government decides to put in place security measures for MECs, ministers,” he said, adding government knew best what was needed.

He also said putting security measures in place in urban areas “is one thing”, but in rural areas things had to be built from scratch, including security measures.

Zuma said this could cost more.

Asked whether the matter could have been handled more transparently and the costs disclosed, Zuma said he couldn’t judge because this was handled by ministers and officials.

Zuma said his family decided to extend the homestead at the same time as government deemed it necessary to upgrade the security at his home.

“People think when they see my home on television that government does that for me, but a lot of the things done to the homestead was my family,” he said.

When host Peter Ndoro said people don’t always understand that Zuma doesn’t take all the decisions himself, Zuma laughed, saying, “Well, I’m blamed for everything every day!”

Nxesi has refused to disclose the cost of the upgrades to Zuma’s homestead, but reports have put the spend so far at R238 million.

Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin yesterday told MPs the disclaimer public works received from the Auditor-General – meaning there were irregularities in the awarding of tenders – could well imply that there had been irregularities in the upgrading of Zuma’s homestead.

“We need to know and we are very determined to find out whether there has been an inflation in costs, whether there had been any other problems in projects the department had been involved in,” Cronin said.

He added he didn’t know enough about the Nkandla project to comment on it.

Zuma was also asked what he thought about expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s criticism of him.

Zuma said: “I don’t think I should pay attention to that one. There are things in my life that I don’t pay attention to, why should I pay attention to that one?”

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