'Unlawful and improper'
Lebogang Seale and Tebogo Monama
PUBLIC Protector Thuli Madonsela has condemned President Jacob Zuma, saying he and his immediate family members unduly benefited from the R215 million upgrades at his private home in the name of security.
The upgrades were done at the expense of the Public Works Department’s service delivery programmes such as the inner city regeneration and the dolomite risk management programme due to a lack of proper demand management.
Madonsela said the omissions and acts that allowed these “anomalies” to happen constituted “unlawful conduct, improper conduct and maladministration”.
Releasing her damning report in Pretoria yesterday, titled “Secure in comfort”, she painted a picture of abuse of public funds and wanton disregard for supply chain regulations by officials and ministers in the Zuma administration.
Madonsela fingered Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, his predecessor Geoff Doidge, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde for their roles in the project.
In a report with far-reaching political implications for Zuma, Madonsela found the president failed to apply his mind property to the contents of the declaration of his private home as a national key point.
She added that he should have been circumspect.
“It is my considered view that as the president tacitly accepted the implementation of all measures at his residence and has unduly benefited from the enormous capital investment from the non-security installations at his private residence, a reasonable part of the expenditure towards the installations that were not identified as security measures… should be borne by him and his family,” the report read.
She said that Zuma should “pay a reasonable percentage” of the “obscenely excessive” costs and “massive scope creep” of the upgrades, as determined with the National Treasury and appear before the National Assembly within 14 days to account.
Madonsela said Zuma had, by failing to act and prevent the runaway costs and protect the state resources, violated the Executive Ethics Code.
This, she added, was inconsistent with his office as a member of cabinet.
The 443-page report said that Zuma and his family had, contrary to his address in Parliament last year, benefited
from the Nkandla project.
“This (not benefiting) is not true. It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the president and his family in his private home a visitors’ centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool and amphitheatre among others. The president clearly benefited.”
She cited these items as the “money guzzlers” in the costs.
Madonsela said, though, that she could not find evidence that Zuma had misled Parliament when he said his family had paid for the upgrades.
She found the conduct of all security cluster departments involved in the project constituted unlawful and improper conduct and maladministration as they did not adhere to supply chain management requirements.
The report was scathing of Mthethwa and Nxesi.
“Also of grave concern is the fact that the amounts involved in implementing these measures, particularly the SAPS are obscenely excessive. The ministers of public works’ communication with Parliament, the nation and possibly, the president, was riddled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies,”
Madonsela found that estimates of the initial security upgrades did not anticipate “grand scale” construction costs, which far outstripped those at the private residences of his predecessors.