The ‘delicate process’ of getting Zuma to #payback

2014-09-21 15:00

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Behind-the-scenes moves are afoot to prepare the ground for President Jacob Zuma’s family to pay back the R10.6 million originally attributed to him by the public works department for security upgrades to his Nkandla home.

Zuma’s final bill is yet to be determined by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and National Treasury, but several senior ANC-linked businesspeople told City Press a solution was being sought to end the parliamentary and political crisis sparked by the debacle.

Late last month, City Press reported on concerns within the ANC about the political damage caused by the Nkandla matter and calls from within the party for him to settle his debt once it had been determined.

“The thinking from the time [Public Protector Thuli] Madonsela’s initial report [on Nkandla] was given to the president is that the family would eventually come up with the amount she holds him responsible for,” said an ANC regional leader who asked not to be named.

A KwaZulu-Natal businessman close to the president’s family told City Press it was “important to sensitise people” to the idea of Zuma repaying public works the portion originally attributed to him.

“A way needs to be found to make people understand that the president was not responsible for the inflated costs of the project, or the illegal decisions, but still has a responsibility to repay some money. It’s a delicate process.”

In her report, titled Secure in Comfort, Madonsela orders Zuma to “pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures as determined with the assistance of National Treasury...”

A report by the Special Investigating Unit has in effect exonerated Zuma, focusing on former Cabinet members, Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya and civil servants from public works instead.

Yesterday, Comfort Ngidi of Concerned Lawyers and Educationists for Equality Before the Law said the group believed Parliament should “assist” in determining what part of the cost should be covered by Zuma.

This week, the group wrote to Speaker Baleka Mbete asking her to remove Madonsela in terms of section 194 of the Constitution.

“One of our criticisms of the Public Protector is that she was unable to say how much the president needs to pay for?...?The parliamentary process should be followed and a decision made as to who pays what and exactly what procedures were followed,” said Ngidi.

“[Madonsela’s] report says that the amount spent on the private residence part of the upgrade is about R51?million. They need to look at what costs were escalated by Makhanya before assessing what part the president and his family have to pay.”

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