How Zuma added costs

Calls for se­vere sanc­tions fol­low leak of Madon­sela’s Nkandla re­port

Weekend Witness - - News - ROWAN PHILP

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma cost tax­pay­ers about R180 mil­lion by per­son­ally en­sur­ing that the Nkandla up­grade work went to his friends — but scored R20 mil­lion­worth of good­ies for him­self in the deal.

And “po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence” by the pres­i­dent forced the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works to use four con­trac­tors he liked, in build­ing “se­cu­rity” fea­tures at his pri­vate res­i­dence like a swim­ming pool, a kraal and houses for rel­a­tives.

Th­ese were among the sen­sa­tional find­ings of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s pro­vi­sional re­port on Nkandla, ac­cord­ing to the Mail & Guardian, fol­low­ing the leak of key fea­tures of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the R215 mil­lion “se­cu­rity up­grade”.

Yes­ter­day, DA par­lia­men­tary leader Lindiwe Maz­ibuko led a cho­rus of shocked re­ac­tion from op­po­si­tion fig­ures and civil so­ci­ety, stat­ing: “It is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that Pres­i­dent Zuma is at the cen­tre of one of the big­gest cor­rup­tion scan­dals in demo­cratic South Africa.”

Maz­ibuko said that, “if ac­cu­rate”, the find­ings should re­sult in “the most se­vere sanc­tion of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s con­duct”, in­clud­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into con­sti­tu­tional breeches.

The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor her­self re­port­edly rec­om­mended an un­prece­dented pun­ish­ment for a South African pres­i­dent: that Zuma not only be or­dered to re­pay mil­lions in “sub­stan­tial” per­sonal ben­e­fits from the up­grade, but that Par­lia­ment hold him “to ac­count” for fail­ing to pro­tect state re­sources.

Kgalalelo Ma­sibi, spokesper­son for Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela, protested the leak, say­ing “pub­lish­ing such re­ports is un­eth­i­cal and un­law­ful”, and adding: “As a rule, we do not com­ment on what­ever pur­ports to be a pro­vi­sional re­port of the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor”.

How­ever, Madon­sela did not deny the rev­e­la­tions yes­ter­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mail & Guardian in­ves­tiga­tive unit AmaB­hun­gane, Madon­sela’s yet­to­be­re­leased pro­vi­sional re­port re­veals that Zuma’s per­sonal in­struc­tions caused the cost of the project to bal­loon from an ini­tial cost of R27 mil­lion to the fi­nal cost of R215 mil­lion.

The ini­tial gov­ern­ment as­sess­ment of R27 mil­lion for nor­mal se­cu­rity up­grades to Nkandla would have been in line with pre­vi­ous up­grades to the res­i­dences of other pres­i­dents, the most ex­pen­sive of which was R32 mil­lion to Nel­son Man­dela’s res­i­dence.

In­stead, the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor re­port­edly found that it was, above all, Zuma’s in­sis­tence that his pri­vate ar­chi­tect, Mi­nenhle Makhanya, be the “prin­ci­ple agent” for the depart­ment on the project that led to the cost leap­ing to over 800% of what was nec­es­sary.

It found that the “un­con­trolled creep” in the am­bi­tion and costs on the project fol­lowed a “con­flict” for Makhanya, in which his brief to sat­isfy his pri­vate client, Zuma, over­ rode his depart­ment man­date to keep costs down. In ad­di­tion, his fees were im­prop­erly cal­cu­lated as a per­cent­age of the over­all cost.

Madon­sela’s re­port found that, un­der Makhanya’s di­rec­tion, the cost for un­der­ground bunkers and shel­tered walk­ways boomed from the ini­tial R500 000 to R8 mil­lion.

Last week, The Wit­ness ex­clu­sively re­vealed that Makhanya, who was paid at least R16 mil­lion in fees for work at Nkandla, is a part­time pig farmer, who op­er­ates his ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice from a run­down res­i­den­tial prop­erty in Pine­town with no re­cep­tion area, and with sag­ging perime­ter walls.

In ad­di­tion, the re­port found that the depart­ment ap­pointed the same quan­tity sur­veyor, engineering firm and build­ing con­trac­tor who had each done pre­vi­ous pri­vate work at Nkandla, with­out ten­ders, on the un­der­stand­ing that the pres­i­dent per­son­ally wanted them.

In ad­di­tion, the news­pa­per re­port­edly found that Zuma took steps to ex­clude any other firms, and quoted an of­fi­cial’s state­ment that Zuma “per­son­ally in­di­cated that he does not want other con­trac­tors on site”.

Mean­while, Madon­sela re­port­edly found that Zuma should re­pay a “rea­son­able” amount for the money spent on re­lo­cat­ing and hous­ing rel­a­tives at Nkandla.

The M&G in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that, in 2010, depart­ment of­fi­cials warned that “nice­to­have” items that were not es­sen­tial to se­cu­rity were go­ing up at the pri­vate res­i­dence.

They also claim that gov­ern­ment heads rolled, or of­fi­cials were re­as­signed, for chal­leng­ ing im­prove­ments to Nkandla that had noth­ing to do with se­cu­rity.

A press re­lease is­sued for the se­cu­rity clus­ter min­istries, which have sought to block the re­lease of the re­port, stated that the Mail & Guardian’s re­port trig­gered a meet­ing of clus­ter min­is­ters yes­ter­day.

De­spite the long list of non­se­cu­rity re­lated im­prove­ments re­port­edly ex­posed by the Pro­tec­tor, the gov­ern­ment said the gov­ern­ment stood by its ear­lier claim that Zuma did not ben­e­fit a sin­gle cent. How­ever, the min­istries ad­mit­ted “ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties” had oc­curred.

The re­lease stated: “[The clus­ter’s own] in­ves­ti­ga­tion es­tab­lished, among other things, that no state funds had been spent on im­prov­ing Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s pri­vate houses at Nkandla. Gov­ern­ment main­tains its view that while the se­cu­rity up­grades were jus­ti­fied, the man­ner in which the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works han­dled the mat­ter was in­ap­pro­pri­ate. The gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion found there had been a num­ber of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the ap­point­ment of ser­vice providers and the pro­cure­ment of goods and ser­vices.”

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