New storm over Nkandla work

2013-07-06 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is caught in a new storm over his Nkandla residence, after the degree of his involvement in the project and the way in which rules were bent to comply with his wishes were revealed yesterday.

While opposition parties agreed that the revelations place a question mark over his credibility, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj maintained that comment would be premature because an investigation into the development was still being done.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko wrote to Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu to ask that he place a motion before Parliament as soon as possible that Zuma’s involvement should be fully investigated.

This follows publication by the Mail & Guardian of the highlights of 12 000 pages of information in 42 files that the paper got from the Public Works Department under a Promotion of Access to Information Act request.

The Nkandla project is referred to as “Prestige Project A”.

According to the documents, R27,8 million was initially budgeted for it, but the final costs are estimated at R273,8 million. Zuma only paid R10,7 million of the costs.

The files contain strong indications that Zuma was involved in planning the improvements to the homestead and was demanding about completion dates.

Several references are made to direct instructions and meetings with “the principal” (Zuma) and it is clear that “the principal” played an important part in decisions.

It appears that government officials and politicians fell over themselves to meet deadlines set by Zuma.

Officials undermined tender procedures and took shortcuts to keep the president happy.

Some of the documents are classified “top secret” to keep the project out of the “public eye” and out of the hands of “journalists who are targetting the project to discredit the government”, the documents note.

Among the improvements paid for by the state were 20 staff houses, a laundry, a tuckshop, a sewage pumping station and treatment facility and a garbage dump.

On at least two occasions, November 15, 2012 and March 20 this year, Zuma (according to the Hansard record of proceedings) told Parliament that the state only paid for security upgrades at Nkandla, that the Zuma family paid for accommodation used by them and that he simply agreed to proposals for work made by state officials.

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