AND NOW WE PRESENT NKANDLA, THE MOVIE
If you can, I hope you will catch Nkandla, The Movie, now showing as Police Minister Nathi Nhleko makes presentations across the country.
On Friday, the minister screened it for the SA National Editors’ Forum. It is the antidote to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s tome, Secure in Comfort, which weighs in at a hefty 447 pages.
The minister’s version is a more entertaining version than Madonsela’s scholarly report, which is, let’s face it, quite dry.
Nhleko’s version is pure showbiz, complete with photographs, two multimedia videos, an album of photographs of Nkandla that are multicoloured and multiangled. I feel close to my president after the exclusive viewing on Friday (there were full-frontal shots and aerial ones too), although I worry about what happened to the National Key Points Act by which government tried to ban all of us from showing photographs of the presidential pad last year because it would harm the security of Number 1.
The presentation’s key point is that most of the spending, in fact R135 million of it, went on a security complex where 21 houses were built for the security detail – each with three bedrooms. As City Press reported in March, the houses are standing empty and the detail stay in nearby B&Bs (at taxpayers’ expense).
Nhleko says the nation’s investigative reporters should spend time focusing on who ordered these houses as he does not have a clue (although he is the police minister, with a full house of detectives) and neither does the president.
We saw images of the president’s kraal and his healthy cows – and a video in which a cultural expert explains that a kraal is sacred and cannot be moved, as it is where the ancestors also reside. So the president’s neighbours had to be moved west of the estate at the cost of a few millions. The minister also showed us the now infamous mini film set to the Italian operatic work O Sole Mio, in which police officers turned actors and showed how the fire pool worked.
The Nkandla fire engine (a bakkie with a hosepipe) also starred, but it turned up 90 minutes after a bogus call – proving why the first estate needs a swimming/fire pool. I was convinced, but no other viewers I know share this view, but maybe they are just clever counter-revolutionaries.
Former president Nelson Mandela played a cameo, or rather his pad at Qunu did. Nhleko showed how Madiba also had a fire pool and a cattle culvert, and nobody made a fuss about those. Nhleko didn’t mention that security upgrades to Qunu cost R28.2 million, while the Nkandla renovations cost R240 million – and the amount is growing.
And in case we thought the president had built himself an amphitheatre in rural Nkandla, the minister attached a proper picture of an amphitheatre in Canada (the minister said to say “Nkandla” and “Canada” out loud and you’ll understand the comparison, although I still don’t) to show that it is nothing fancy.
I was on the edge of my seat, laughing, or perhaps it was crying. This reviewer gives five stars to the movie.