Nkandla: The gloves come off
THE government says its unprecedented application to the courts for an interdict that would prohibit Public Protector Thuli Madonsela from releasing her interim report on the Nkandla upgrades was necessary because of the “unrealistic ” deadline she set for the security cluster bosses to comment on her findings.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said yesterday that Madonsela had given the security cluster three working days in which to study and comment on the 357-page report.
Radebe said it was Madonsela’s refusal to extend the deadline sufficiently that pushed the cluster into going to court.
Madonsela was forced to withhold the interim report, which she had been due to release yesterday to interested and affected parties.
The DA had asked the public protector to investigate whether public money had been abused in the R200-million “security upgrade” at President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla.
It is believed that among the upgrades are Astroturf soccer fields, bunkers and a spaza shop run by Zuma’s wife MaKhumalo.
Despite Zuma’s Nkandla home being declared a national key point, Sunday World was able to buy a few essentials at the Zuma spaza shop two weeks ago.
The security cluster served court papers on Madonsela on Friday – the day on which its bosses were to have given her their comments on the report if they were to meet her deadline.
The cluster, which includes the police and the departments of state security, defence, and justice, asked the court for more time in which to respond to the interim report.
Radebe said Madonsela had been asked several times to grant an extension to the deadline of 10 days, but would agree to only two days more.
“The public protector has spent a significant amount of time, close to a year, investigating this matter … It is critically important that the security cluster is afforded sufficient and reasonable time to study the report and provide comments on sections that may be of security concern. The public protector has, in our view, unreasonably denied us the opportunity to properly engage with the report,” he said.
He said it was not the government’s intention to muzzle or threaten Madonsela.