10 things worth knowing about Madonsela’s Nkandla report

After a two-year investigation, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela today released her report into security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead. Here are the highlights:

1. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on the security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home is entitled Secure in Comfort. It is just under 450 pages long and has a 75-page executive summary.

2. The final costs of Nkandla are “conservatively estimated” to amount to R246 million, but could be higher.

3. The initial cost was R27 million, but it escalated rapidly after Zuma’s private architect, Minenhle Makhanya, was appointed by the department of public works. He often recommended more luxurious and expensive options instead of going with the cheaper options and made R16.5 million (calculated as a percentage of costs) from the Nkandla project.

4. Zuma and his ministers should have acted when the Mail & Guardian blew the whistle in 2009 on the R65 million the project cost at the time, but the spending increased after that. Zuma violated the Executive Ethics Code by failing to contain state spending and benefiting from it. He wore “two hats”.

5. Zuma told Parliament that his family had built their own houses and that the state had not built any from which they benefited, but this wasn’t true. Madonsela accepted the evidence that he had told them this “in good faith”.

6. Zuma must pay for the non-security upgrades at his home, which include a visitors’ centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, a culvert, a chicken run and extensive paving. In the planning stages, there were constant references to Zuma having to repay these. Mail & Guardian calculated these to cost around R20 million.

7. There was little precedent from previous presidential upgrades for the upgrades done at Nkandla. Former president Nelson Mandela, for instance, built his kraal at his own expense and didn’t require a “fire pool”.

8. Proper tender processes weren’t followed at any stage, contrary to Treasury regulations. It was justified by the department saying that it was urgent, that private works had already started, for security reasons, and that only one supplier could supply the particular service required. Still, there were delays over which Zuma himself complained in March 2010.

9. There was “massive” scope creep – Nkandla became a project with runaway costs because of bad management of service providers by relevant state organs. This created a “licence to loot” situation.

10. The National Key Points Act was “inexplicably dragged in” halfway through the Nkandla building project (in 2010) and then its provisions were not applied. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa failed to apply his mind when he declared Nkandla a national key point.

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