Mthethwa’s the main Nkandla culprit

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REUTERS

Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele shakes President Jacob Zuma's hand as Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, centre, looks on at the end of the news conference in Pretoria. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg -

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s failure to “properly” apply his mind when signing the declaration of President Zuma’s Nkandla home as a national key point constituted improper conduct and maladministration.

This was one of the damning findings contained in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla report released on Wednesday.

She said Mthethwa failed to direct Zuma to implement security measures at his own cost or to properly modify the declaration during the R215 million upgrades at the president’s private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

Mthethwa, a member of the ANC national executive committee, is one of Zuma’s trusted lieutenants in the party and government.

“With the National Key Points Act having been inexplicably dragged in halfway through the implementation of the Nkandla project, its provisions had to be complied with. This did not happen.

“Neither was there compliance with the contents of the declaration of the Nkandla residence as a national key point, signed by the minister of police on 8 April, 2012,” said the report.

In addition, Madonsela found Mthethwa and former public works minister Geoff Doidge could have displayed “better executive leadership” by “taking decisive measures to curb excessive expenditure” - especially since it emerged already in 2009 that the costs of the Nkandla project had ballooned to R65m from the initial budget of R27m.

She has recommended that Mthethwa take urgent steps to review the National Key Point Act to clarify its applicability to presidential security privileges, and align it with the constitution and post-apartheid South Africa.

This is to ensure that “no further security measures” are implemented at Nkandla except those determined to be “absolutely necessary”.

Mthethwa also had to ensure Nkandla did not set a precedent for security upgrades in respect of past and future presidents and deputy presidents.

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega was also ordered to help Mthethwa familiarise himself with the contents of his responsibilities under the National Key Points Act and the cabinet policy of 2003, which governs security upgrades at the private homes of former presidents and former deputy presidents.

The findings against Mthethwa are a culmination of behind-the-scenes battles and tension between Madonsela’s office and the government’s security cluster over Nkandla.

Last November, Mthethwa threatened to arrest Madonsela if she released her Nkandla report against the wishes of the security cluster.

This occurred after Madonsela had rejected the cluster’s claim that releasing her report would amount to a breach of Zuma’s security.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi had also classified the government’s Nkandla report as top secret, before the ANC ordered the government to declassify it.

The security cluster had earlier filed an urgent court bid to prevent her from releasing the report, before withdrawing it a few days later amid a public outcry that Madonsela’s office was being undermined by the Zuma administration.

The security cluster comprises Mthethwa, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor and Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele.

piet.rampedi@inl.co.za

The Star

Access the Public Protector’s Nkandla report here


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