Cape Town - Cosatu is demanding to know who signed off on the R206 million in government spending on a security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.
Cosatu wants the responsible parties to face the consequences, even if they are holders of high political office.
The ANC alliance partner gave notice on Tuesday that it would not be satisfied with the rolling of a few junior officials’ heads if bigger fish were behind “this gross misuse of public funds”.
“For the government to spend such a grotesque amount of public money on any one person is shocking and grossly insensitive to the workers, the poor and the homeless,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said.
Those responsible “must be held accountable, including any political office bearers who approved the use of these massive amounts of public money”, he added.
The question wasn’t answered by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi when he announced the findings of an internal task team investigation into the matter on Sunday.
He said the probe had found approval had been given for the regional bid adjudication committee to use a “negotiated and nomination procedure in appointing contractors” – bypassing ordinary procurement procedures – despite it being a national project. He didn’t say who had given this permission.
However, Nxesi – with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele – insisted Zuma had not been aware of the cost or details of the work carried out.
But this has been questioned by opposition parties, who cite a November 2010 letter addressed to the president by then-public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, in which she gives a progress report on the upgrade. However this did not reflect the costs.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said this week that she would submit a series of parliamentary questions to Zuma to try to establish “the true extent of his involvement”.
Yesterday, she said she would also be applying under the Promotion of Access to Information Act for access to the Public Works task team’s report, which Nxesi said on Sunday would be withheld for security reasons.
Mazibuko said Zuma should have the task team report tabled in Parliament for “proper scrutiny and debate”.
She said she would table it once she had gained access to it.
“It is a slap in the face of accountability and transparency for the report, which makes a number of unsubstantiated assertions, to remain secret. This... makes it clear that the minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, is engaged in a concerted campaign to protect President Zuma from accountability at all costs,” Mazibuko said.
Craven said he welcomed the decision to refer the matter to the Special Investigating Unit, the attorney-general and SAPS.
He noted “with great concern” that the task team had uncovered evidence of irregularities and malpractices.
The ANC in Parliament indicated yesterday it would fight attempts to have the Public Works report made public. It said Mazibuko’s call for it to be tabled before Parliament “is misguided and defies common sense”.