Nkandla re­port is ‘stonewalli­ng’

R215m later, and more se­cu­rity must be in­stalled

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - Mar­i­anne Merten SE­NIOR PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

OUT­RAGE met Po­lice Min­is­ter Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko’s Nkandla re­port jus­ti­fy­ing a cat­tle kraal, chicken run, am­phithe­atre, swim­ming pool and vis­i­tors’ cen­tre as cru­cial se­cu­rity mea­sures at Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s ru­ral homestead – and there­fore not for his ac­count.

De­scribed as a “white-wash”, an “in­sult” and a “low point”, op­po­si­tion par­ties yes­ter­day slammed the 50-page doc­u­ment.

As civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions crit­i­cised the re­port, po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors said it was a mis­cal­cu­la­tion to think the Nkandla de­ba­cle now would be closed, even as the re­port showed up weak­nesses in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

Al­ready hav­ing cost the tax­payer R215 mil­lion, it also emerged more se­cu­rity fea­tures would have to be in­stalled at Nkandla: mo­tion de­tec­tors and cam­eras were not put in place, pending the re­lease of this re­port. Yes­ter­day nei­ther Nh­leko nor Public Works Min­is­ter Thu­las Nx­esi could put a fig­ure to the still out­stand­ing costs. “We don’t know. We will just rely on the po­lice what needs to be done,” Nx­esi said.

The re­port was limited in scope, ac­knowl­edged Nh­leko, as it dealt only with the fea­tures de­scribed in the March 2014 public pro­tec­tor’s “Se­cure in Com­fort” re­port. The swim­ming pool, cat­tle kraal, chicken run, am­phithe­atre and vis­i­tors’ cen­tre were deemed non-se­cu­rity fea­tures “un­duly” ben­e­fit­ing the pres­i­dent and his fam­ily, and thus at least some of their costs should be re­paid, ac­cord­ing to the public pro­tec­tor.

By ar­gu­ing that all the fea­tures served “im­por­tant” and “clear” se­cu­rity pur­poses, Nh­leko’s re­port de­ter­mines no re­pay­ment for non-se­cu­rity up­grades is due be­cause there were no non-se­cu­rity up­grades.

Cen­tre for the Study of Democ­racy direc­tor Steven Fried­man said the re­port con­tin­ued the same “blank stonewalli­ng” pat­tern since the start of the Nkandla de­ba­cle sev­eral years ago: “They sim­ply de­cided to tough it out and close ranks”.

How­ever, that strat­egy made lit­tle sense as pres­sure was un­likely to go away. “It might have made more sense to have a re­port (say­ing) it’s quite clear the pres­i­dent was an en­tirely in­no­cent vic­tim (but the public pro­tec­tor said he should re­pay some­thing) and as a splen­did ges­ture he’ll re­pay some­thing.”

Fried­man added the re­port showed that what went on in Par­lia­ment was “all about (po­lit­i­cal par­ties) talk­ing to the elec­torate”.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Aubrey Mat­shiqi said this re­port high­lighted the ex­tent of the weak state of South Africa’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem

with the dom­i­nance of one po­lit­i­cal party.

“We al­ready have a prob­lem of mis­trust in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween many cit­i­zens and the gov­ern­ment, be­tween many cit­i­zens and the pres­i­dent. What this re­port does is to ei­ther main­tain the cur­rent lev­els of mis­trust, or worsen them,” he said. “The cit­i­zens and po­lit­i­cal par­ties are in­ef­fec­tive as agents of re­straint (on the rul­ing party).”

The real ques­tion was whether gov­ern­ment cared what cit­i­zens thought, said Mat­shiqi: “I don’t think so. This per­for­mance sug­gests they don’t”.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties roundly re­jected the re­port.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the min­is­ter’s “white-wash re­port” showed “Pres­i­dent Zuma’s hench­men will do any­thing to shield the pres­i­dent from his re­spon­si­bil­ity”, liken­ing the de­ci­sion that the pres­i­dent did not have to pay a cent as “grand theft of the high­est level”.

The EFF, which brought the “Pay back the money” cam­paign and slo­gan to Par­lia­ment, re­jected the re­port as a “failed pro­pa­ganda spin” by a min­is­ter who the pres­i­dent ap­pointed. “The EFF does not buy all the sto­ries, bioskops and cul­tural id­ioms used to cover up the truth. We warned long ago that the de­lay in pub­lish­ing the cost of non-se­cu­rity fea­tures was be­cause cabi­net was cooking the re­port to try and pro­tect the cor­rup­tion of Ja­cob Zuma,” said party spokesman Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi.

United Demo­cratic Move­ment leader Bantu Holomisa said the re­port took the coun­try back to square one: pay back the money. “It (the re­port) has not done them (ANC and gov­ern­ment) any good,” Holomisa said. “Who will have the guts to say to the king as the in­duna you have to pay… The sheer ar­ro­gance of power!”

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the re­port was an “in­sult (to) the in­tel­li­gence of all South Africans”, adding its was not a sur­prise from a min­is­ter who serves at the plea­sure of the pres­i­dent: “This is tan­ta­mount to Colonel San­ders ask­ing his chick­ens to vote on whether or not they would like to be slaugh­tered.”

Free­dom Front Plus leader Dr Pi­eter Mul­der said the re­port was “un­be­liev­able”, and that the pres­i­dent should have been asked to re­pay some­thing, even if just in a ges­ture of good­will.

“It is a to­tal white-wash. I think they will get away with it… in the short time. But Nkandla is his le­gacy. We will re­mem­ber Zuma for Nkandla,” he added. “The most stupid man will see through this.”

The Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of South African Con­sti­tu­tion said it was in­evitable the Nkandla saga would end up in court.

NO RE­PAY­MENT: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma does not owe a cent for the se­cu­rity mea­sures car­ried out at Nkandla.

EX­TRAV­A­GANT: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s homestead at KwaNxa­m­alala, Nkandla.

NO AN­SWERS: Po­lice Min­is­ter Nh­leko fi­nally re­leased the Nkandla Re­port.

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