Cobus Coetzee and Bongani Hans
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma broke his silence on the Nkandla report yesterday – two weeks after it had been released by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
“I did not use the public’s money in Nkandla. What I’m saying is I’m not guilty. Even if they look for me under a tree they can’t find me. I did nothing wrong. I did not do anything,” Zuma told a crowd in Gugulethu in footage broadcast by ANN7 yesterday.
“They go around and say this fella used public money. I am not guilty, there is no case against me. I am a person just like you.”
Zuma said the tuck shop at Nkandla was opened by his first wife a long time ago and she had used to it support herself while he was in exile.
He and other leaders of the ANC held a series of rallies and meetings and campaigned door-to-door in communities across Cape Town yesterday.
ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa visited Crossroads and Mitchells Plain, while deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte campaigned in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay.
ANC treasurer general, Zweli Mkhize attended a Bantu Church of Christ service in Khayelitsha, while ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete met residents of Dunoon.
Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the party had done all it should in terms of Mandonsela’s findings on Nkandla.
Speaking on the sidelines of an ANC rally in Langa yesterday, he denied weekend newspaper reports that said the party’s national executive committee (NEC) had decided that then- defence and military veterans
minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa would shoulder some of the responsibility for Nkandla.
“I was in the meeting and that was not discussed, nor did we make such a decision. All the NEC did was to acknowledge that we have done what we should do as the ANC,” Mantashe said.
He said the party would monitor only the actions by ministries, the Presidency or the Special Investigating Unit as it implemented the recommendations of the public protector’s report.
In Chatsworth, Durban, Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said the media had been making a mountain out of a molehill about a “non-issue”.
Speaking at a dinner on Saturday to raise funds for the ANC’s election campaign, he said: “You (the media) are making an issue out of something that is not big. You are telling the people that the matter is big.”
Asked whether Zuma had considered returning the money as recommended by the public protector, Maharaj said Zuma would make this known when he responded to the report.
Zuma was in jovial spirits as he visited residents in KwaKiki, Gugulethu. His cavalcade of nine cars pulled up in a street only a few metres wide. Zuma got out and walked for about 200m. He stopped several times to greet residents.
At Nozulu Braai, one of the first places he visited on this walkabout, he asked manager Lungisile Mbeki if he was registered to vote, and what the government could do to improve his life.
“I told the president I wanted to grow my business. The government must help me do that,” he said.
Mbeki runs his business from a container. He said Zuma’s visit reaffirmed his support for the ANC.
Zuma then addressed a crowd from a stage on the back of a truck parked opposite the taxi rank.
He emphasised the importance of voting, but added: “If you vote for another party that knows it would not win, you are throwing away your vote. It will not change the situation of people.”
Zuma said the ANC had experience in running the government. It knew what the problems were and how to fix them.
The ANC was ready to win back the Western Cape and it welcomed former members back, Zuma said.
Cope MPL Mbulelo Ncedana, who left the ANC in 2008, rejoined the party at a rally in Langa.