Cape Town - The Department of Public Works spent 260 percent more to beef up security at Nkandla for “one man” than it did to build a high-security prison in Kimberley for hundreds of inmates, Parliament heard on Thursday.
Some details of the security upgrading of Nkandla were revealed in the National Assembly on Thursday, soliciting an angry response from Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, who wants the details of a task team report on the upgrade to be discussed by MPs behind closed doors and “in camera” if necessary.
In a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, Nxesi said he felt that tabling the report in Parliament would be tantamount to debating a state security matter in public.
“Therefore I propose that the report be tabled and dealt with by a parliamentary committee responsible for security matters or that a mechanism be devised by Parliament that will permit the matter to be discussed without compromising the security of the president and his immediate family,” said Nxesi.
But during the sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday, DA MP Anchen Dreyer read out a list of the companies who provided some of the security measures at Nkandla, including park homes, a high-security fence, a mobile generator, bullet-proof glass and a lift.
She said payments were made to these contractors for what seemed to be “bona fide security measures at Nkandla” amounting to R117 million.
“To put this amount into context, the Department of Public Works built a new jail in Kimberley with top-range security for R45m, but spent R117m, exactly 260 percent more, to provide security for one man.”
She said that in his letter to Parliament, Nxesi requested that the Nkandla report be dealt with in an “appropriate structure” which would show regard to the “sensitive nature of the information in the report”.
“This sounds very much like a request for the report to be handled behind closed doors. The DA insists that this report must be dealt with in an open committee so that all the details regarding this scandal are made public. Anything less will continue to shroud this report in secrecy and prevent real action being taken against those implicated in it.”
Dreyer said the DA would ask Sisulu for the committee not to meet in secret.
Responding to Dreyer, a visibly irritated Nxesi said it was public knowledge that there were irregularities with suppliers and pointed out that Sisulu had announced that his department was ready to share the report with a “special committee”.
“My problem is that the honourable Dreyer is not even ready to follow her own logic because she’s been calling for the report, but now she keeps on coming with the information in dribs and drabs from her informers. I am not sure what the honourable Dreyer exactly wants,” said Nxesi.
Meanwhile ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said his office welcomed Nxesi’s decision to subject the report to “parliamentary scrutiny”.
He said matters pertaining to the security details of the head of state were similar to those normally dealt with by the joint standing committee on intelligence, “which conducts its business in-camera”.