DA: Nkandla report must be made public

2013-07-01 22:23
(Khaya Ngwenya, City Press)

(Khaya Ngwenya, City Press)

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Johannesburg – The DA has lashed out at the department of public works claiming that the classification policy adopted for classifying the Nkandla report was not law.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the minimum information security standards (MISS) - a classification policy adopted by the post-apartheid government while it writes a new official secrets act - was not law.

Therefore, if the authors of the Nkandla report had relied on it, the classification of the report was invalid.

Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Monday confirmed that the findings of the probe into the R206m upgrade of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead have been classified, but distanced himself from the decision.

Cwele's ministry said in a statement that under the current classification regime - the MISS policy - a document could only be classified by its author.

It was long expected that the report would be handed to Parliament's standing committee on intelligence, which meets behind closed doors.

But 10 days ago Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the document had been classified secret in terms of the MISS and would not be handed to Auditor General Terence Nombembe or Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who was investigating the upgrade at Nkandla.

Mazibuko said that in a subsequent written response to a parliamentary question Nxesi also invoked the apartheid-era Protection of Information Act - which is due to be repealed by the contested protection of state information bill.

"The bottom line remains: the report is not legally classified and Minister Nxesi is clutching at straws to find excuses for why he has not made it public," she said.

"He must do the right thing, come clean and make the report public now."

The cost of the upgrade has made headlines for months and been termed "clearly outrageous" by Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin, who said a preliminary report indicated over-charging by contractors.

Classifying the report

Cwele's spokesperson Brian Dube said the report had been classified by the task team appointed by Minister Nxesi to probe the so-called Nkandlagate controversy.

This was done by the time the findings were shown to the ministers in Cabinet's justice, crime prevention, and security (JCPS) cluster, he said.

"They saw the report when it was tabled for their meeting and it was classified from the task team," Dube told Sapa.

"It is factually incorrect that the minister of state security, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, has 'classified the report top secret' or issued an instruction to this effect...

"As the report is authored by the task team and owned by the commissioning minister of public works, the minister of state security cannot classify or de-classify it or issue instructions to this effect."

Cwele's denial prompted the DA to again accuse Nxesi of a cover-up. The party challenged him to release the outcome of the probe into alleged irregularities in the use of public money for improvements at Zuma's private home in the KwaZulu-Natal hamlet.

Cwele's office suggested that the ministers who make up the JCPS cluster had asked that the report indeed be submitted to Parliament.

"From the JCPS cluster, the intention and advice was for this report to be tabled to the relevant committee of Parliament."

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