But How Do You Justify Spending R250 Million On One Man?

2015-05-29 14:21

Even if the government had taken the noble route of engaging with the public before pouring millions into the Nkandla project, an even lower figure of R100 million would still have been considered as staggering and too much by the latter.

Had the public been consulted about the proposed spending on security upgrades at the president’s private residence, R100 Million would have been strongly rejected, regardless of the competence of the president in question.

But the Nkandla upgrades did not cost R100 Million; they cost an astounding R250 Million. To rub salt on to the wound, Minister Nhleko, who was delivering his report on the matter, stated that more upgrades would actually have to be added, as such raising the already disputed amount of a quarter of a billion.

That the safety of the president as a supreme organ of the state is paramount cannot be disputed. But in a country like ours, where a common professional earns around R10 000 a month and has to make do, spending R250 Million on the private residence of the president is just ridiculous.

Are we only now, after much damage has occurred, supposed to kindle a debate on how much the limit should be on security spending for executive public officials, at their private residences at that?

In the Minister of Police’s justification of the spending on Nkandla, the emphasis was not on the dizzyingly high figure, but on the necessity of all those ‘well calculated’ adjustments. It almost came across as if the Minister himself was the overseer of the project, in how everything all seemed to meet his approval in the end.

It was Zuma’s personal architect, Minenhle Makhanya, who was appointed by Public Works to head the controversial project. The Public Protector report somehow implicated Makhanya, also claiming he had made R16, 5 Million from the project.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) report, which Nathi Nhleko paralleled with his and the public protector’s for comparison, had stated that Makhanya’s appointment was unlawful, and had broken procurement rules.

In the SIU report, it was stated that as much as R155 Million was overspent and liable for repayment by Makhanya, but not much has happened in that regard since. Makhanya was accused of authorising extra features not recommended by the official security assessment.

But in his 50 plus page report, Nhleko did not stress either the issue of negligent spending by the state (Public Works) or unprincipled undertakings by Makhanya and some of his sub-contractors. Accordingly, all the constructions were justifiable and even insufficient at that.

My issue in this whole saga is therefore not technical but moral. Technically, Zuma and his associates are ferociously agile and well equipped to defend themselves. Given the colossal opportunity at their disposal, they are well endowed to kill in broad daylight and still beat the case in court.

My issue is as such the moral aspect behind spending R250 Million in state funds on the security of one man’s private residence. Bearing in mind the Socialist and Humane defining principles of the political party in question, is it sensible to devote so much money to the comfort and security of one man and his immediate family?

Isn’t the ANC that organisation which represents the working class struggle and is therefore supposed to lead the way by discouraging the widening gap of wealth in society? How do we fight against toxic capitalist pomp when we ourselves are deeply engrossed in a shameless carousel of blatant luxury and exclusivity?

Have we so quickly forgotten the words of Nelson Mandela, whom at the famous Treason trial in 1964 said, “Today I am attracted by the idea of a classless society, an attraction which springs in part from Marxist reading and, in part, from my admiration of the structure and organisation of early African societies in this country. The land, then the main means of production, belonged to the tribe. There were no rich or poor and there was no exploitation.”

The ANC, which was supposed to be quelling the adverse disparities of wealth which plaque our democracy, is contrarily perpetuating the problem with its corruption and its desperate savour for extravagance. Aristocratic terms like Gala, VIP, First Class, and Exclusive have since crept to prominence in the otherwise socially conscious vocabulary of the ruling party for the worst.

What all this sums up to is that the ANC has developed a dangerous taste for extreme luxury and is totally detached from the reality of the majority. How could you justify spending a quarter of a billion on one man’s safety when millions of your people are starving, homeless, and unemployed?

In anger we ask how so much money could be spent on one man and in nonchalance the Minister replies the figure could actually escalate further.

Regardless of the intercessions of Nhleko, the added features still don’t validate the high cost of R250 Million. I think if the Minister humbly does his job and investigates the money already spent he would retrieve plenty of change to use for the alleged remainder of the upgrades, and possibly even spare some to return to the government coffers. ©

(Check Out My Blog on Twitter: @JustSmartRage)

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