South Africa 20.3.2014 05:33 pm

Mantashe rebukes Radebe

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Michel Bega

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Michel Bega

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe was in effect rebuked by ANC heavyweight Gwede Mantashe on Thursday over the so-called fire pool at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

“Officials who have gone public with inaccurate information must be censored, like the information… of the swimming pool as a fire pool, and the details given to explain this matter constitute a misrepresentation of facts, ” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.

The African National Congress secretary general was reacting to a report released on Wednesday by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on her probe into security upgrades at Nkandla.

She concluded that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from the upgrade, which included the building of a swimming pool.
The government has said the swimming pool was actually a fire pool to be used in emergencies.

Radebe persisted with this line when he gave the government’s official response to the report on Wednesday afternoon.

Radebe said: “The retaining wall, cattle kraal and culvert, fire pool and water reservoir, accommodation for security personnel and visitors waiting area are all essential security features which ensure physical security and effective operation of security equipment.”

Publishing an inter-ministerial report on Nkandla in December, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said “the so-called swimming pool” was a “fire pool” constructed as the most viable option for fire-fighting.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega said the same.

Madonsela’s report on Nkandla labelled the structure as a swimming pool.

“It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the president and his family in his private [home], a visitors’ centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool, and amphitheatre among others,” Madonsela said on Wednesday.

“The president and his family clearly benefited from this.”

Zuma was on Thursday also defended by the ANC Youth League, who said he had no control over the construction of the pool.

“Zuma didn’t ask for a swimming pool,” said ANCYL national co-ordinator Magasela Mzobe.

“He is busy running the country. People who authorised for that should pay,” he said.

Although the timing of Madonsela’s release of the report has been largely scrutinised, the report has been widely welcomed.

Mantashe said it encouraged the ruling party to check on whether service providers did not inflate prices on other government projects like they did in Nkandla.

The party invited members of the media to join them on an “inspection in loco” of Nkandla next week.

The ANCYL, however, labelled Madonsela a sensationalist, saying she was biased and had an underlying agenda.

“Madonsela must finish up with this Nkandla mess then go,” said ANCYL national convenor Mzwandile Masina.

Adding to Zuma’s woes, two political parties laid charges with the police against him on Friday.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema did so at Sunnyside police station in Pretoria, and Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane in Nkandla.

Mantashe said the ANC was not worried about losing support ahead of the May 7 elections.

The party’s door-to-door campaigns showed people were more concerned about when the party would deliver on houses, water and sanitation than Nkandla.

 Sapa

 

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