Cele fingered in Nkandlagate

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Upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's lavish Nkandla estate may now have implications for former police commissioner Bheki Cele. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

 

Johannesburg - Former police boss Bheki Cele is in hot water again for failing to ensure that President Jacob Zuma paid for security upgrades at his private home in what has become known as Nkandlagate.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said Cele, who was the accounting officer for the SAPS when the Department of Public Works (DPW) initiated a process to install and implement security measures at Nkandla, had failed to comply with procurement processes.

In a letter dated January 9, 2014, Madonsela wrote: “It appears that you are being implicated in the matter that I am investigating and that such implication may be to your detriment or may result in an adverse finding against you.”

Madonsela said that initially, the security measures were to be implemented and installed in terms of the cabinet’s policy: “Security measures at the private residences of the president, deputy president, former presidents and deputy presidents” approved on August 20, 2003.

In terms of the policy, it is the government’s responsibility to pay for security upgrades at the homes of the president and the deputy president.

However, the police minister declared the president’s private residence a national key point in terms of the National Key Points Act 1980 on April 8, 2010.

Madonsela said the president was “obliged to take measures at his own cost” and to the satisfaction of the minister of police “to prevent or counter subversion, espionage and sabotage” in terms of the declaration and provisions of the National Key Points Act.

“Therefore, everything that had to be done in terms of security at the president’s private residence (as a national key point) was as from (April 8, 2010) not to be funded by the state, but by the owner, President Zuma.”

She noted that she could find no indication in her investigation that Zuma had “paid, or was requested to pay, for any of the security measures that were installed and implemented at his private residence by the DPW”.

Madonsela said the Nkandla project “resulted in costs for the state in excess of R200 million”.

Her investigation might also have to find that Cele’s failure to comply with the procurement procedures was “improper and constitutes maladministration”.

Also, the failure of the SAPS, Department of Defence and DPW to implement a sensible and affordable management process of the Nkandla project was not in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations. “It was improper and constitutes maladministration,” Madonsela said.

But Phillip Masilo, the legal adviser of DPW Minister Thulas Nxesi, hit back, saying Madonsela’s argument was flawed.

“It is the responsibility of the state to look after the president until he dies. Why do you expect the president to pay for the security upgrade because he does not even conduct the security assessment? If the requirement is to put in bullet-proof windows, we can’t expect the president to pay because he did not ask for it,” Masilo said.

He added that Madonsela should have written “a letter to us to get clarity, because she is misinformed”. Masilo said security upgrades were not done in terms of the National Key Points Act but in accordance with the cabinet policy 2003 declaration.

He added that the state had paid for security upgrades at former president Thabo Mbeki’s home and Nelson Mandela’s two homes in Houghton and at Qunu.

Madonsela said it was not clear why the DPW accepted that it was responsible for the cost of the Nkandla project despite the requirements from the SAPS and Department of Defence as the client departments.

Masilo said it was the DPW’s responsibility to provide, maintain and fund structural additions and amendments of the security measures.

Cele’s spokesman Vuyo Mkhize said: “Please trust the public protector to provide the answers to all your questions when she releases her report soon.”

solly.maphumulo@inl.co.za

The Star


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