Zuma’s excuse unacceptable: DA

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IOL pic jun18 sona jacob zuma smile Reuters President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Sumaya Hisham

Johannesburg - The explanation that President Jacob Zuma's response to the Nkandla report was delayed because he was overseas is unacceptable, the DA said on Friday.

“The president has now made the fact that he was abroad the reason for his delay, and he has committed to submitting the final report upon his return,” Democratic Alliance federal executive head James Selfe said in a statement.

“This is completely bizarre. It is neither an excuse, nor can it be accepted in any way.”

The reason was contained in a letter the DA received from acting National Assembly Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, following a letter the opposition party wrote to Speaker Baleka Mbete.

It had wanted Mbete to give clarity about what steps Parliament would take to ensure Zuma submitted his response to the report.

Zuma had undertaken to hand Mbete a comprehensive report on the outcome of three separate investigations into state spending of R246 million on his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, by the end of Wednesday.

On Thursday, Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj said the president needed more information before responding to findings about his home.

In a report released in March, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma had derived undue benefit and should pay for some of it out of his own pocket.

Zuma declined to respond to Madonsela's report in full within the required fortnight. Instead he said he would wait for the Special Investigating Unit's findings on the same issue.

On July 5, the African National Congress Chief Whip's office said Zuma had received the provisional SIU report and would provide Mbete with a final and comprehensive response within 30 days.

Public spending on security upgrades at Nkandla have turned into one of the major controversies of the Zuma presidency as costs escalated and it emerged that the project included a swimming pool, an amphitheatre, and a chicken run.

Selfe on Friday said it was worrying that Tsenoli, in his reply, had not said what steps would be taken to ensure Zuma's submission was submitted timeously to Mbete.

He said Zuma returned from Brazil on Thursday, where he attended a Brics summit, and was currently in the Eastern Cape for Mandela Day.

“The president was well aware of the deadline, which he set himself, and surely he was equally aware of his travelling schedule,” he said.

“If he had taken this seriously, he would have submitted it in advance of his travels to Brazil.”

Selfe claimed this was a reflection of how Zuma viewed Parliament and the office of the Public Protector, as the report should receive top priority.

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