Zuma refuses to answer questions on Nkandla tax, 'intelligence report'

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has refused to answer a question on whether he paid fringe benefit tax on the non-security related upgrades to his homestead in Nkandla, and whether the so-called "intelligence report" had anything to do with Pravin Gordhan's removal as finance minister.

"The issue of tax is a confidential matter between the South African Revenue Services and the taxpayer," reads his full written reply to a parliamentary question on the matter posed by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane.

Maimane asked Zuma if he had paid fringe benefit tax on the non-security related upgrades at his private homestead in Nkandla, and if not, why not. If he did pay, Maimane wanted to know when and how much he had paid.

After a damning ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2016, Zuma had to pay R7.8m for the swimming pool - also called a fire pool - the chicken run, kraal, amphitheatre and visitor's centre.

According to the DA's calculations, Zuma should pay fringe benefit tax amounting to almost R64m for the Nkandla upgrades.

'Subject of litigation'

DA MP David Maynier asked whether an intelligence report had played any role in informing his decision to reshuffle the Cabinet on March 31, 2017.

"The status of the so-called intelligence report is a subject of litigation in court proceedings, in which the Democratic Alliance is a party. I, therefore, cannot comment on the matter," replied Zuma.

He also said he could not answer questions on why the South African National Defence Force had been deployed at Parliament in February for the State of the Nation Address, and why he had cancelled Gordhan's participation in an investor roadshow the week before he was recalled, as these matters were before the courts.

In another answer released on Monday, Zuma said he would not institute a presidential commission of inquiry into the deaths of psychiatric patients in Gauteng.

Maimane asked Zuma when he had "first gained knowledge of the transfer of thousands of mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni Healthcare to 27 unlicensed non-government organisations (NGOs), and that some of the specified patients had died in the care of these unlicensed NGOs".

Maimane also asked if he intended to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Esidimeni tragedy.

"I was briefed by the Minister of Health on Life Esidimeni on February 1, 2017, which was immediately after the release of the report on the matter by the Health Ombud, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba. Immediately after this briefing, on behalf of the government, I extended our deepest condolences to the families of psychiatric patients who died so tragically in Gauteng," reads Zuma's answer.

No Life Esidimeni inquiry

"The investigation that was conducted by the Health Ombud was comprehensive and sufficient with regard to assisting government with information to deal with the matters at hand. As such, I am not intending to establish a Commission of Inquiry."

Maynier and Cope MP Deidre Carter asked Zuma about the relationship between former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and South African Revenue Service Commissioner Tom Moyane.

"Mr PJ Gordhan is no longer the Minister of Finance," answered Zuma. "The Minister of Finance, Mr Malusi Gigaba, and the SARS Commissioner, Mr Tom Moyane, have a good working relationship. There is no longer a need for mediation."

Furthermore, Zuma was insistent that he had nominated Nhlanhla Nene, whom he fired as finance minister in December 2015, for a position as the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank, also known as the BRICS Bank.

"No further action is being taken in this regard, as Mr Nene subsequently accepted a position in the private sector," said Zuma.

 

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