Don’t ask me about Nkandla upgrades, says Zuma

2013-03-21 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has told Parliament he was never informed about the costs of renovations to his Nkandla homestead.

Responding to questions from Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko today, Zuma said the nature and form of the improvements, which cost government R206 million, were decided by the relevant public works, police and state security officials.

“As already indicated, such information would not include details on the specifics of what would be done, by whom and at what cost,” he said.

Zuma said the improvements were made at his family residence to enhance his security as head of state.

He told the National Assembly his family residence was self-funded.

“The Zuma family has effected various renovations to the family residence over a period,” he said.

Zuma said that in early 2008 his family commissioned certain improvements to the residences from its own account.

“Nobody’s permission was necessary in this regard as it related to an upgrade of a private residence. This right extends to all citizens of the republic,” he said.

When Mazibuko showed Zuma a copy of a letter written by former Public Works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde informing him of the upgrades, he denied any knowledge of it.

“I never received any letter. It’s a very funny letter, it has a lot of signatures,” he said.

Zuma also defended the tuckshop that cost R586 467 with a guard house and bin, saying his first wife, Sizakele Khumalo, always had a tuckshop.

“The tuckshop was at the centre of the homestead and that was a security risk,” he said.

He said it had to be moved near the gate for security reasons.

“The Zuma family had no intention of moving the tuckshop because we had no money,” he said.

Zuma insisted he built his own house.

“No government has built my house. Government only built security features,” he said.

In October, City Press reported that the luxury facilities in Zuma’s homestead included two Astroturf soccer pitches.

However, Zuma denied the homestead had these facilities.

“There’s no soccer field at my house,” he said.

He asked Members of Parliament unhappy with his answers to “wait for Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi’s report so you can ask intelligent questions”.

Zuma, although claiming not to have seen Nxesi’s report, said the controversial Nkandla upgrades report had all the details of the questions asked by MPs.

Nxesi announced last week that he would present the report within the appropriate parliamentary mechanism.

Zuma said he was aware of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation.

“I shouldn’t pre-empt your discussions [on the report when tabled].

“Besides saying I didn’t receive the [Mahlangu-Nkabinde] letter, I don’t think I should discuss the matter,” Zuma added.

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