‘Don’t use me as Nkandla scapegoat’

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Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu

SUPPLIED

Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, was discharged from hospital. File photo: David Ritchie

Johannesbrug - Former public works deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has slammed her senior colleague in the executive, minister Thulas Nxesi, for implicating her in the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home without first talking to her.

Bogopane-Zulu, who is now the deputy minister for women, children and people with disabilities, said she was never interviewed by the task team investigating the irregularities.

Yet the report on the controversial upgrades, released by Nxesi this week, questioned the role played by Bogopane-Zulu and former Public Works minister Geoff Doidge.

The report, which was dismissed by opposition as a whitewash, has absolved Zuma of any wrongdoing, saying he had no knowledge of the costs.

The report says three officials and a contractor “raised uneasiness” about the involvement of Doidge and Bogopane-Zulu in the project.

The two allegedly attended and presided over site meetings and, in some instances, interacted with contractors.

Nxesi appointed the task team last year after public outrage that R208 million was spent on the upgrades.

Doidge, who is South Africa’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka, could not be reached for comment.

But Bogopane-Zulu said she was disappointed by the manner in which her colleagues handled the matter. “How do you come up with recommendations without consulting me? I am still part of the executive. You can’t release a report without speaking to people whom you name. It’s logic,” she said.

“We can’t treat each other like that as colleagues. They did not even inform us that they were going public,” she said.

The first time she heard about her link to the report was through the media.

She said she would get guidance from the government and the ANC.

Bogopane-Zulu would not comment on the allegations against her, or discuss her role regarding the Nkandla project during her term. She said she would not want to affect the report of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who “had the courtesy to interview me”.

On Saturday Nxesi’s legal adviser, Philip Masilo, confirmed that Bogopane-Zulu was not interviewed, but said her involvement was not part of the scope of the investigation.

“The report was not saying anything negative about her. We will only inform someone when we are investigating them. (The recommendation) needed to be put in the report so that the allegations can be further investigated,” said Masilo.

 

Nxesi has referred the investigation to the Special Investigating Unit, the auditor-general and the police to investigate any possible acts of criminality.

Zuma’s proclamation to the SIU, gazetted on Friday, allows investigators to probe maladministration in the department, the conduct of officials and their undeclared links or family ties to contractors and suppliers.

It will probe whether procurement processes were manipulated to give contractors an unmerited advantage.

Earlier this week Nxesi and security cluster ministers said that of the R208m spent on the Nkandla upgrades, the state paid only R71m for security upgrades.

The remaining R135m was spent on operational costs including accommodation for security staff, a helipad, a clinic and a crew pavilion.

The presence of the top security ministers and their chiefs was a result of Zuma and Nxesi being peeved by the fact that security departments – which ordered the upgrades – were not owning up to the spending. This is according to a top Luthuli House source.

Sunday Independent


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