*Article has been updated
Johannesburg - The ruling party did not intend to undermine the validity of the public protector's Nkandla report, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.
“We are neither intending to ignore or undermine the validity of the report. There is no such intention within the ANC,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
The African National Congress was “relieved” that the report had “finally been released to the public”.
But the timing of the release of the report remained a concern “in terms of the disruptive effect” it would have on all political parties in their campaigning ahead of general elections in May, said Mantashe.
A call for President Jacob Zuma's impeachment was a premeditated decision by opposition parties, the ruling party said.
Mantashe said the opposition had decided to call for his impeachment prior to the release of the Nkandla report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
“The call by some opposition parties for impeachment is a premeditated decision,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
He said the biggest problem with the cost security upgrades at Zuma's Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal was “inflation of prices”.
“This project is a sample to say we should look at whether prices aren't inflated in other areas.”
All officials involved “must be brought to book” and all funds acquired inappropriately must be paid back, said Mantashe. The ruling party will call on President Jacob Zuma to answer questions on the Nkandla report if necessary, Mantashe said.
“If there are issues that the president will have to answer, the ANC will be able to call the president to answer questions on any matter,” Mantashe told reporters.
“I don't know who told you the president has not been called to account... or won't be called to account. You are making a particular assumption.”
But he said the ANC believed investigations should be focused on “people who are highlighted in the report”.
The State must pursue everybody who fraudulently used state funds, he said.
“All those people must be brought to book, they must be pursued. And that excludes nobody.”
He said the ANC's view was to use the report “as a guide” instead of conducting a witch hunt. - Sapa