‘We will ignore Nkandla report’

2014-03-16 14:01

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ANC and allies plan to downplay report and question protector’s credibility

The ANC is expected to tell its members to ignore the Public Protector’s Nkandla report if its findings are adverse and accuse Thuli Madonsela of producing a report designed to influence the outcome of the elections.

“There was no instruction from the ANC top brass to ridicule the Public Protector but organisations are taking it upon themselves to discredit Madonsela’s findings,” said a SACP leader in Gauteng.

“Madonsela has been investigating for far too long and the report coming barely three months before the elections is a bad reflection on Madonsela’s part,” said the leader.

The timing of Madonsela’s report on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead is set to be a headache for the ANC as it prepares for the May elections.

City Press interviewed ten ANC and alliance members in different structures and provinces.

On Wednesday, Madonsela is scheduled to release the report into the R208 million upgrades of Zuma’s private homestead by the department of public works.

The ANC leadership, which has been piling pressure on the public protector to release the report, is likely to be in a tailspin as it attempts to contain the fall-out from Madonsela’s findings.

A Gauteng ANC leader said the party will have to minimise the impact on Zuma by questioning the report’s credibility.

“Remember the position of the ANC has been anchored on the security cluster report. When Thuli releases hers, we will emphasise the inconsistency with the security cluster, then the focus will be on the inconsistency and the credibility of Thuli,” he said.

The source said the report was likely to focus on the repayments of some of the costs and the tax implications of the state’s expenditure on Zuma’s home, but those will be challenged on the basis of the report’s credibility.

An ANC activist in KZN said members will be urged to ignore the report because it is the product of a flawed process, he said.

“What is not clear is whether the leadership will engage with the substantive issues or whether they will only trade insults and accuse her of working with hostile forces to influence the election outcome.

“The response will also depend on how far-reaching the PP’s report will be. Will it limit itself to expenditure only? It will be devastating for the president if the report were to also find that he misled parliament because opposition parties could latch on to that.”

However the ANC activist said the president would be bound to act on Madonsela’s recommendations even if he disagreed with them.

An ANC national executive committee member suggested that the party was not as worried about the report as it had been before.

“Nothing is stressing us any more. We have been through the worst. But, ja, we are anxious (about the report).”

In January, the ANC NEC suggested that the findings of the Madonsela report should be the same of those of the security cluster report as the facts on which they findings would be based are the same.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza confirmed that this was still the position of the party, but said they did not want to speculate about the Madonsela report would say.

“But given the fact that an investigation was done earlier, we don’t expect it to depart much because the investigation was done by professional people who looked at the facts.

“We don’t know what Thuli says. So our expectation is that it will be a confirmation (of the earlier report),” he said.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC’s eThekwini region last Saturday held a march in support of Zuma ahead of the report’s release as part of a plan to continue punting Zuma while chipping away at the report’s credibility.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala told City Press yesterday the party in the province would “sustain’’ a campaign to popularise Zuma in response to the report as its leaders went about their election campaign work.

This involved popularising Zuma means using every election platform to defend his reputation to potential voters.

“The eThekwini march was not only about the Public Protector but also to show support for the president of the ANC in the face of the onslaught and the attacks against him,’’ Zikalala said.

Former national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, too, has come out fighting, saying he will not allow himself to be made a ‘scapegoat’’ for any irregularities in the security upgrade.

Earlier leaks of Madonsela’s preliminary report contained adverse findings against Cele over an alleged failure to implement financial controls in his capacity as commissioner and SAPS accounting officer.

Cele said he “suspected’’ that an attempt had been made to make him the “fall guy’’ for irregular decisions on the project.

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