Gwede lashes Nh­leko

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral says po­lice min­is­ter must ex­plain why more tax money must be spent on Nkandla, adding that not giv­ing rea­sons is reck­less

CityPress - - Front Page - HLENGIWE NH­LA­BATHI and XOLANI MBANJWA hlengiwe.nh­la­bathi@city­press.co.za and xolani.mbanjwa@city­press.co.za

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe has slammed as “reck­less” Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko’s state­ments that more money must be spent on Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s pri­vate home in Nkandla.

The public works depart­ment has also dis­tanced it­self from Nh­leko’s claim that he doesn’t know who au­tho­rised the con­struc­tion of 21 three-bed­room houses on land 1km from Pres­i­dent Zuma’s es­tate.

In an in­ter­view on Fri­day, Man­tashe told City Press that the only time the Nkandla is­sue would be put to rest would be once Zuma stepped down from of­fice.

The long-run­ning Nkandla con­tro­versy was also one of the most con­tentious is­sues at this week’s al­liance sum­mit be­tween the ANC, SA Com­mu­nist Party and SA Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

City Press un­der­stands that there were heated ex­changes among del­e­gates, in­clud­ing Gaut­eng ANC chair­per­son Paul Mashatile, whose sug­ges­tions for the party to pay for the non-se­cu­rity-re­lated up­grades at Nkandla were shot down.

The al­liance part­ners re­solved that gov­ern­ment needed to move fast to en­sure that the mat­ter was fi­nalised. This, they de­cided, en­tailed hold­ing ac­count­able those found guilty of in­flat­ing the costs of up­grad­ing Pres­i­dent Zuma’s home, and en­sur­ing that the money was re­cov­ered.

Man­tashe told City Press: “To me, if Nh­leko says we will spend more money, and leaves it at that, I think that is reck­less in the first place. That is my view. That is reck­less.”

Man­tashe said it would have been bet­ter had Nh­leko bro­ken down how much was to be al­lo­cated to which ad­di­tional se­cu­rity mea­sures he claimed were needed. Man­tashe said this would have en­abled cit­i­zens like him­self to make up their own minds about the ne­ces­sity of the mea­sures and whether they were main­te­nance re­lated.

“I have my own pri­vate dwelling and I know I spend more money ev­ery time to main­tain it,” he said.

The fail­ure to go be­yond the “more money” phrase had only served to ir­ri­tate the public fur­ther, he said. South Africans, Man­tashe added, were al­ready “psyched up” by news re­ports of more of their money be­ing chan­nelled to Nkandla, which was in­creas­ing public dis­sent.

He felt Nh­leko had found a “clumsy” way of stat­ing his in­ten­tions.

“What does ‘more money’ mean in real terms? I don’t know whether you are go­ing to con­struct some­thing new or are main­tain­ing some­thing al­ready there,” said Man­tashe.

“When Thu­las [Nx­esi] and Nathi [Nh­leko] sit there, they sit there as min­is­ters of state and must be in­ter­ro­gated. Leav­ing that aside, they are mem­bers of the ANC.”

Man­tashe was also scathing about the media’s “ir­re­spon­si­ble” re­port­ing on the ad­di­tional money to be spent on Nkandla with­out in­ves­ti­gat­ing how much money would be spent and what it would be spent on. “It’s a sen­sa­tional ap­proach to a prob­lem,” he said. Tem­pers flared at this week’s sum­mit in which del­e­gates spoke frankly about di­vi­sive is­sues haunting the al­liance, par­tic­u­larly Nkandla. Two del­e­gates at the sum­mit told City Press that Mashatile stood up to raise the is­sue of Nkandla, say­ing it had to be dealt with. Mashatile was con­cerned about the dam­age the Nkandla saga had caused the party in Gaut­eng dur­ing last May’s gen­eral elec­tions, dur­ing which ANC sup­port de­clined by 10%. He was wor­ried history would re­peat it­self next year. The del­e­gates re­vealed that Mashatile only got his chance to speak af­ter other ANC lead­ers, in­clud­ing North West ANC chair­per­son Supra Mahumapelo and Free State chair­per­son Ace Ma­gashule, had stood up to flay “prov­inces that think they are bet­ter than oth­ers”. “They didn’t men­tion Mashatile by name, but vented their frus­tra­tions with cer­tain ANC prov­inces. When it was Mashatile’s turn to speak, he stood to ex­plic­itly state that the big ele­phants in the room were Nkandla and e-tolls,” said one del­e­gate. The del­e­gates told City Press that Mashatile sug­gested that the ANC pay up for Nkandla on Zuma’s be­half, but this was roundly re­jected.

“He was try­ing to be diplo­matic, to say he is not fight­ing with Zuma, but that the al­liance must deal with it and the ANC must pay.

“He was chas­tised by those who spoke, point­ing out that it would be an ad­mis­sion of guilt if the party paid any­thing,” said one del­e­gate.

How­ever, the other del­e­gate said that Zuma was al­ready guilty in the eyes of the public and had been un­able to speak in Par­lia­ment with­out be­ing blocked by Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers MPs, who wanted him to pay what he owed. Last month, Mashatile openly crit­i­cised Nh­leko’s re­port on the se­cu­rity up­grades in Par­lia­ment’s ad hoc com­mit­tee on Nkandla. Nh­leko’s re­port ex­on­er­ated the pres­i­dent and found that he was not li­able for the non-se­cu­rity up­grades, such as the swimming pool, am­phithe­atre, cat­tle kraal and chicken run. In con­trast, Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port found that Zuma had to pay a por­tion of the to­tal cost, an amount meant to be de­ter­mined by the po­lice min­is­ter.

Man­tashe said that, even if the ANC were to ask Zuma to pay, a per­cep­tion would be cre­ated that it was an ad­mis­sion of guilt.

“That will never be a so­lu­tion,” he said. “Once we come to the end of the term and Zuma goes, Nkandla will be closed. But there will be a new nar­ra­tive for who­ever be­comes the pres­i­dent of the ANC – be­cause the [agenda] is to dis­credit, dele­git­imise, weaken and de­stroy the ANC.”

At a press con­fer­ence this week, Nh­leko told re­porters that the 21 “bach­e­lor units” that cost R135 mil­lion to house Zuma’s SA Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) pro­tec­tors and SA Na­tional De­fence Force (SANDF) staff were not con­sid­ered part of the se­cu­rity up­grades.

Nh­leko said he was not al­lud­ing to another in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but merely a “fol­low-up” on who had au­tho­rised the 21 homes and why they were built al­most a kilo­me­tre from Zuma’s homestead if those who would use them were meant to pro­tect the pres­i­dent.

“We need to know who con­structed those houses, by whose de­ci­sion, what in­flu­enced that and by whose de­ci­sion it was to use that con­struc­tion, which is si­t­u­ated com­pletely out­side the prop­erty of the state pres­i­dent [and meant] to be lumped to­gether with se­cu­rity up­grades,” said Nh­leko, adding that he sup­ported the find­ing by the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit (SIU) that the homes were not part of the se­cu­rity up­grades.

Nh­leko said the 21 houses, which had never been used be­cause SAPS pro­tec­tors con­tin­ued to use tem­po­rary park homes closer to Zuma’s house, ac­counted for “a bulk” of the R246 mil­lion spent at Nkandla.

But Nx­esi’s spe­cial le­gal ad­viser, Phillip Masilo, said “it had never been our con­cern” who au­tho­rised the con­struc­tion of the houses, or why they were built.

Asked whether the depart­ment would clar­ify the mat­ter with Nh­leko, Masilo said they were not con­cerned about the is­sues he had raised.

“Our view is that we have done our in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the re­port is there. We don’t see any need to clar­ify that with the min­is­ter of po­lice. We don’t see how that will take the mat­ter fur­ther. Ac­cord­ing to us, [when it comes to] the Nkandla mat­ter, from the public works side, we have im­ple­mented all rec­om­men­da­tions and the mat­ter is closed, ex­cept for the dis­ci­plinary hear­ings and the civil mat­ter. But as far as we are con­cerned, the mat­ter is closed,” said Masilo.

Nh­leko sug­gested that the 21 homes were un­nec­es­sary be­cause fewer SANDF and SAPS staff needed ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“In so far as the SANDF clinic is con­cerned, you’ve never had more than four peo­ple man­ning the clinic ded­i­cated to the pres­i­dent’s place and, for the po­lice, you never have them num­ber­ing more than 20,” he said.

“That’s why I’m say­ing there’s this clar­i­fi­ca­tion work that needs to be done about what was the think­ing and why we dubbed the con­struc­tion of those houses se­cu­rity up­grades.”

But a quick look at the three re­ports on Nkandla – one by the in­ter­min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee, another by the Public Pro­tec­tor and one by the SIU – shows that it was the SAPS, Nh­leko’s own depart­ment, that asked the public works depart­ment for SAPS ac­com­mo­da­tion in 2009.

Nh­leko’s spokesper­son, Musa Zondi, re­sponded by SMS: “The min­is­ter made a point and what­ever else needs [to be] re­solved won’t be through [a] mega­phone or [a] public spat in the media.”

Gwede Man­tashe

Nathi Nh­leko

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