No clarity on how Zuma's Nkandla move will affect case against architect

2016-02-04 11:48
Minenhle Makhanya (City Press)

Minenhle Makhanya (City Press)

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Durban – It was not yet clear how President Jacob Zuma’s offer to repay some of the money spent on Nkandla would affect the R155m civil claim facing the project’s architect.

"Who knows what this decision means for my client? This is a completely separate investigation that could take anything from six months to a year to finalise," Minenhle Makhanya’s lawyer Barnabas Xulu said on Thursday.

In 2014, the Special Investigating Unit brought a R155m claim against him and the public works department for allegedly inflating the costs of the upgrades to Zuma’s private home.

He said the case had taken its toll on his client.

"Can you put yourself in his shoes? How would you feel if you had to deal with a claim of this magnitude?"

On Tuesday, Zuma proposed that the Constitutional Court order that Auditor General Thembekile Kimi Makwetu and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan determine how much he should pay back for those upgrades not related to security, namely the visitors' centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal, chicken run, and swimming pool.

- Read more: Zuma: Here's my plan to pay for Nkandla upgrades

Xulu said he had not yet discussed Zuma’s decision with his client. He said Makhanya was given a valid contract and everything was above board.

"The state approved all the payments to my client. He did not force anyone to make the payments. Everything was invoiced and processes were followed."

Xulu said Treasury and the Auditor General had never implicated Makhanya in wrongdoing.

He questioned whether Treasury, or any other state entity, was fit to determine how much Zuma owed. An independent inquiry was needed to get to the bottom of the Nkandla saga.

"Treasury is the custodian of the public purse. They were the ones who approved the funds. Why did they approve the money if they are now going to claim it back? It does not make sense. How can Treasury investigate itself?"

In its final report on the Nkandla upgrades, the SIU alleged that Makhanya authorised the construction of structures, which were not security measures.

As a result of his "wrongful, unlawful and negligent conduct", R68.5m was paid to service providers for work that fell outside what the police and defence force recommended for Nkandla.

According to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report, he made R16.5m from the project.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  durban  |  nkandla upgrade

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