South Africa 20.3.2014 06:00 am

President must pay for Nkandla

FILE PICTURE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

FILE PICTURE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

The Public Protector found President Jacob Zuma allowed public funds to be used for his own benefit and should be asked to pay back some of the money.

Thuli Madonsela’s release of the long-awaited report on the security upgrades to Zuma’s private homestead in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday, pushed the conduct of Zuma and the ministers under him into the spotlight.

Entitled “Secure In Comfort”, the explosive report – consisting of more than 400 pages – details the contentious upgrades to the president’s private home Nkandla.

Further brought into question was the ethical conduct of Zuma “related to him telling Parliament and the nation” that no building was constructed for him by government. Renovations were financed through a bank mortgage bond, he said.
However, evidence show that structures – including a visitors’ centre, cattle kraal, chicken run, swimming pool and amphitheate – are clearly not security measures and have benefitted Zuma and his family. “Misleading Parliament is prohibited by the Executive Ethics Code,” the report said.

Madonsela later indicated in her findings she had “accepted the evidence” that he addressed Parliament “in good faith”.

She accepted evidence that Zuma was not thinking about the visitors’ centre, but his family dwellings.

Zuma’s conduct could “be legitimately construed” as misleading Parliament, but appeared to have been a “bona fide” mistake, the
report said.

In a question and answer session Madonsela said she had to ask the president about “his state of mind” and whether his action was to deceive.

She once again indicated accepting that this was a mistake, drawing that there was an issue of language. Zuma had claimed “he didn’t understand”. “There is no evidence that the president lied.When I met with him I had a candid discussion with him.”

Madonsela recommended Zu-ma pay a percentage of the cost of the security upgrades. “The president is to take steps with the assistance of the National Treasury and the SA Police Service to determine the reasonable cost of the measures implemented by the DPW [Department of Public Works] at his private residence that do not relate to security,” she said. “[Zuma is to] pay a reasonable percentage of the cost”.

Madonsela said the amount to be paid back should be based on the cost of the installation of some or all of the items that were not accepted as security measures.

 

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