2 separate properties at Nkandla - report

2013-11-14 13:02
Nkandla (Cornél van Heerden, Beeld)

Nkandla (Cornél van Heerden, Beeld)

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Cape Town - There are two separate properties at President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence, one private and the other state-owned, according to a report released at Parliament on Thursday.

"The recognition of the distinction of the... two separate properties is perhaps the most significant issue in [the task team's] investigation and report," the document reads.

The special report was tabled by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI).

The task team referred to is the one established in November last year by the ministers of public works, police, and state security to probe security upgrades to Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. This was prompted by concerns over the cost - more than R206m - of the upgrades.

The task team's report was referred to the JSCI for consideration in June.

Security measures

In its report on the task team's report on Thursday, the JSCI said the security upgrades at Nkandla were divided into two focus areas.

These included state-owned land covering 5.1958 hectares, and Zuma's property covering 3.8324 hectares.

It said the task team's report had pointed out that Zuma's property was not large enough to accommodate all the security measures required.

Zuma's private residence was declared a national key point in April 2010. Security upgrades at Nkandla began in June that year.

"As at November 19, 2012, the actual cost for the whole project (state and president's property) amounted to R206 420 644.28)."

The JSCI report gives a basic breakdown, in percentages, of where and how this was spent.

A total of 24%, for security costs, went to the private residence portion; a further 52% went to the "government hub" section for infrastructural costs. Another 24% was for consultancy fees.

Among the JSCI's recommendation and findings is that the task team had found no evidence that the public works department paid for construction of Zuma's private houses.

"[The] apparent misunderstanding that presently exists in respect of the upgrades at the Nkandla property could be attributed to the fact that no clear distinction is appreciated between the state-owned land... and the property of the president."

Probe into tenders

The JSCI found that the recommended security features ultimately incorporated on the two properties were largely informed by the surrounding terrain, climatic conditions and the poor infrastructure in the Nkandla region.

"This fundamentally directly influenced the high costs."

The committee said it supported the recommendation of the task team that the allocation of tenders and appointment of contractors to the special project be referred to the Auditor General for investigation.

"However, the JSCI believes that because of the classification aspects of the subject matter, the AG should report on this investigation to the JSCI. The JSCI will then monitor the investigation by receiving regular briefings."

The JSCI said it was concerned that people without the necessary security clearance had been involved in the Nkandla project.

"This was a serious contravention that should not have been permitted since the safety of the president could have been compromised".

Report a 'complete whitewash'

In a statement on Thursday, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko described the JSCI's report as a "complete whitewash".

It attempted to justify the spending at Nkandla by making a distinction between public money spent on property belonging to Zuma and that spent on the surrounding state land.

"There seems to be no appreciation that spending R206m on one man’s home, regardless of where the expenditure occurred, is simply not justifiable."

There was also no answer to the question of what would happen with the upgrade.

"Regardless of whether it is on private or publicly-owned land, will the president get to keep it after he ceases to be president?"

Mazibuko said the DA would consider action against the JSCI.

"The DA will now consider what steps are available to us to take action against the JSCI for producing such a politicised assessment of what is a very serious matter of public concern, and effectively involving Parliament in a cover-up," she said.

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