Zuma conduct 'inconsistent with his office'

2014-03-19 17:47
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma benefitted "unduly" from a R206m state-funded security upgrade to his home that included a cattle enclosure and an amphitheatre, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday in a damning report six weeks before an election.

Madonsela accused Zuma of conduct "inconsistent with his office" and said he should repay a reasonable part of the unnecessary renovations, which also included a chicken run and a swimming pool that had been justified as "fire-fighting equipment".

The findings were likely to further hurt the image of the scandal-plagued Zuma and the ANC in May elections, although the former liberation movement that has ruled since the 1994 end of apartheid is still expected to win.

The ANC, which has staunchly supported the president over several previous allegations of corruption, was due to hold a news conference later in the day.

"The president tacitly accepted the implementation of all measures at his residence and has unduly benefitted from the enormous capital investment in the non-security installations at his private residence," Madonsela said in her report.

The 444-page summary of the two-year investigation into the renovations at Zuma's sprawling homestead at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province painted a picture of systemic government incompetence and flouting of normal tender procedures.

Madonsela described the cost overruns as "exponential" and said ministers had handled the project in an "appalling manner".

When news of the security upgrade first broke in late 2009 in the media, the cost was estimated at R65m. However, despite intense public scrutiny, the bill ballooned to R246m as the project and its costs spiralled out of control.

The total spending amounted to eight times the estimated present-day value of securing the home of former president Nelson Mandela, who died in December aged 95.

"Our president needs to learn to be responsible, so I think it is fair for him to take that responsibility to pay what he did not spend fairly," said Fundzo Mundalalo, an unemployed 21-year-old heading to the taxi rank near Johannesburg's financial district of Sandton.

‘Negative for the ANC’

"This is negative for the ANC," said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst. "They will lose votes as a result of this."

However, some other analysts saw it having little electoral impact because of the blanket publicity the case had already received.

"This is unlikely to seriously shift people's voting habits or make Zuma appear in a new light," said Peter Attard Montalto, an emerging markets analyst at Nomura International.

Madonsela's report, entitled "Secure in Comfort", said public works funds had to be diverted from inner-city regeneration projects to carry out the upgrade on Zuma's home.

It added that at no point did Zuma express misgivings at its scale or opulence even though the construction would have raised the eyebrows of a "reasonable person".

"A substantial amount of public money would have been saved had the president raised his concerns in time," the report said.

It detailed how a swimming pool was justified in official documents as "fire-fighting" equipment, and how Zuma personally requested changes to the design of bullet-proof windows.

It also criticised the placing of a medical clinic and police facilities inside the gated compound, saying they could have been moved outside for the benefit of the public in what is one of the poorest regions of Africa's wealthiest country.

Despite voter concerns about graft and shoddy public services, the ANC is almost certain to win the 7 May election, handing the 71-year-old Zuma another five years at the helm.

The extent of his unpopularity in urban areas was highlighted by the boos that greeted him at a memorial to Mandela at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium in December, although he still enjoys huge support in the countryside.

The government had previously gone to court to try to prevent Madonsela releasing her findings on the grounds that they might jeopardise Zuma's security. The challenge was dropped after Madonsela made clear there was no threat.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  thuli madonsela  |  pretoria  |  nkandla upgrade

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.