ANC keeps distance from Nkandla

By Drum Digital
31 March 2014

The ruling ANC has put some distance for now between itself and the Public Protector's damning report on President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla home.

Briefing reporters in Johannesburg on Monday, party secretary general Gwede Mantashe consistently declined to give direct replies to questions on the Nkandla issue.

He said there were "processes that need to be given a chance".

Mantashe was giving feedback on an African National Congress national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Cape Town at the weekend. He said the NEC was satisfied with work undertaken on the matter by officials and the party's national working committee.

"It further noted that there are processes that need to be given a chance, like the pending report of the president expected in due course and progress on the work of the Special [Investigating] Unit."

Zuma has directed the unit to investigate the security upgrades.

In her report on the upgrades at Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, titled "Secure in Comfort", Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma had unduly benefited from the improvements.

These included a cattle kraal and swimming pool, built with state money. She stated in the report that he should refund a portion of the R246 million cost.

On Monday, it was reported that Zuma told a crowd in Gugulethu, Cape Town he would not repay the money because he did not ask for the upgrades. He placed the blame on government officials.

"They did this without telling me," he told ANN7.

"So why should I pay for something I did not ask for?"

Mantashe said the NEC had made no recommendations about the Nkandla report.

"We recommend nothing. There are reports that deal with the matter. The ANC will monitor the implementation of the report. That report [Madonsela's] must be attended to," he said.

"Anyone who benefited fraudulently or wrongfully must be pursued."

Given the deadline for Zuma to respond to Parliament was on Wednesday, the ANC did not want to interfere in a process that had not run its course.

Mantashe said to see Madonsela's report as being about Zuma alone was inaccurate, as it covered the entire scope of the Nkandla refurbishments.

"It is actually a little bit problematic to think that, therefore, it is [about] Zuma... but the report is about the Nkandla project and must be treated as such," Mantashe said.

He chided the assembled media for focusing primarily on Nkandla, and for assuming Zuma would not respond to the report by Wednesday.

Asked whether the ANC had confidence in Zuma as the general election approached on May 7, he said there was no question at all of Zuma not being at the forefront of the ruling party's election campaign.

"We elect a president. That president of the ANC is the face of the ANC in the elections. That issue is not up for discussion... He [Zuma] is the president of the ANC elected by 53rd national congress of the ANC."

Turning to other issues, Mantashe said public discourse about corruption in the country indicated society held high standards on the matter.

"What we have observed in the public discourse, are the high levels of discussion on corruption; a clear reflection that we pitched our standards as a country high, and we should correctly continue to do so."

Mantashe said the meeting also dealt with the state of the organisation, a report on elections, and international issues.

As part of those discussions, the NEC raised concerns about senior party members who did not "bother engaging" structures of the party, but rather spoke negatively about such structures in the public domain.

Those members would be spoken to.

"We talk to them... and that engagement determines the course of action," Mantashe said.


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