Jacob Zuma should pay back the money spent on the upgrades to his Nkandla residence.
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Improvements made to compound
The South African government public works department is building a helipad, underground bunkers, security and their accommodation, a firepool, a chicken-run, and fencing around the entire complex. According to the ministerial handbook, the department can spend R100,000 on security improvements at the private houses of public officials. Any costs above that must be covered by the official. Over R200,000,000 has appeared to be allocated by the department. The firepool was built, which was controversial, and has been described as a part of "questionable 'security renovations'."
Statements by spokesmen have mentioned an apartheid-era law, the National Key Points Act, as explanation for the spending discrepancy, but that spending should come from a different department. The leaked documention also hints at vastly inflated prices for the work done, much of it not going out to tender, and huge consulting fees.
Prior to the upgrades, then Deputy President Jacob Zuma was suspended from his post pending his rape trial and allegation of racketeering and corruption. On 6 April 2009 charges against him were dropped by the National Prosecuting Agency, citing political interference. On 9 May 2009 he was inaugurated as the fourth post-apartheid President of South Africa. A month later between the 18th and 29 May a security assessment was carried out at his private residence in Nkandla. Construction started on 29 August 2009.
Mail & Guardian
The initial story was uncovered by the Mail & Guardian journalists Mandy Rossouw and Chris Roper. During that period, it was reported that the expansion to the compound would cost R65 million, paid for by the taxpayer. Expansion to the compound included the installation of a helipad, visitors' center, private military hospital and parking lot. The initial phase would include the building of a double-storey house and a guest house at a projected cost of over R19,4 million (this cost was later uncovered by the amaBhunganeinvestigation of M&G). As soon as the story broke out, government denied having a hand in the upgrades. The public work spokesperson stated:"Please note that there is no work or extension project taking place at President Jacob Zuma's compound at Nkandla.", contradicting initial statements by government. During the site visit at the compound by the journalists, a contractor working at the site noted that the initial costs of the expansion would the later increase.
Between 13 December 2011 and 12 December 2012 complaints were lodged to the Public Protector. The first complaint was by a public member who expressed concern over the revelations and requested an investigation into the misuse of state funds, allegations which were published by the M&G. On 30 September 2012, former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader[clarification needed] also lodged a similar complaint, as did three other members of the public between October and November 2012.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's final report on security upgrades to the compound titled "Secure in comfort" was published on 19 March 2014. The provisional report, published by the Mail & Guardian on 29 November 2013, was entitled "Opulence on a Grand Scale". In both the provisional and final reports Madonsela found that Zuma had benefited unduly from the R246 million the state had spent on the upgrades.
"Like all South Africans I have recently read in the media the appalling story of the sums of taxpayers’ money being spent on the private residence of President Jacob Zuma. This is opulence on a grand scale and as an honest, loyal, taxpaying South African I need to understand how this is allowed to happen. Strangely civil society is quiet. This is wrong and highlights the complete disregard which this Government has for the citizens of this country. Where is this money coming from and how has it been approved?"
The investigation was conducted in terms of the provisions section 182 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution) and sections 6 and 7 of the Public Protector Act, 1994 (the Public Protector Act). Part of the investigation was also conducted in terms of sections 3 and 4 of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, 1998 (the Executive Members’ Ethics Act).
In her investigation,[clarification needed] Madonsela said that the Ministerial Handbook had a maximum security spending of R100 000 should The Minister of Public Works issue approval. Since the house at Nkandla is privately owned by the President, he would only be granted R100 000 for security measures. Therefore the President would have acted in violation of the Ministerial Handbook.
On 28 April 2014, an Parliamentary ad hoc committee set up to consider Zuma's response to Madonsela's report was referred to the next Parliament to be formed after the 2014 general election, citing insufficient time available before the 7 May election date. A new Parliamentary ad hoc committee was established in August 2014.
As of 11 August 2014, a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) mandated to investigate the matter by Zuma in December 2013 is sueing the architect for R155.3 million in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court. On 12 September 2014, the SIU's report on their investigation was tabled in Parliament. The SIU said that the Zuma family was enriched by the upgrades and blamed overspending on the architect and public works officials, who have alleged interference by Zuma and others who have all denied these allegations. The SIU also found that security measures were still inadequate despite the overspending.
The new Parliamentary ad hoc committee will consider the report of an inter-ministerial task team published in December 2013, the Public Protectors' final report published in March 2014 and the SIU's report published in September 2014, as well as Zuma's responses to them.
On 28 May 2015 police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, who was appointed by Zuma on 25 May 2014, released his report on Nkandla which found that the swimming pool, cattle kraal, chicken run, visitor's centre and amphitheatre were needed security features and concluded that Zuma does not owe the South African taxpayers anything.
Why Zuma should pay back the money:
1. Its the right thing to do.
Zuma had been alerted as early as November 2009 to possible over-spending. "Yes‚ the president should have done something. At the time the cost estimate was R65-million‚" she said.
She said that "the president was‚ by his own admission‚ interacting with officials".
"The finding was that the president and his family had unduly benefited. It is in line was the form of improper conduct" referred to in Public Protector act.
Referring to the claim that the Nkandla swimming pool was a fire pool‚ she said: "It is clearly a swimming pool with fire-fighting functionalities".
The visitors centre "not listed by the authorised security experts" who prepared a document on Nkandla. "There was an unused building that could have done the same job."
3.President Jacob Zuma's former spokesperson Mac Maharaj has told the UK's Financial Times that he told the leader to prepare to pay back the money used for security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
“I’d say this is the biggest weakness of the administration. From the beginning I said to him, ‘President, prepare yourself for repayment.’ This was before the [Public Protector] report came out," Maharaj said in an interview posted on the publication's website on Friday.
"And I said, ‘If you have a problem, I’m sure that in your present position it won’t be difficult to raise [the money]’. He said, ‘No I did not ask for those security enhancements. I’m not paying.’ "We know how stubborn each of us can be. And we know each of us has a blind spot. But however this thing pans out, what is important is we create a culture of taking responsibility for our actions.”
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