ANC bigwigs at odds over Nkandla fiasco

FILE PICTURE: A view of the controversial homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla on January 21, 2014. Picture: AFP.

FILE PICTURE: A view of the controversial homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla on January 21, 2014. Picture: AFP.

Pressure continues to mount on President Jacob Zuma to implement the recommendations made by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her damning report on security upgrades at Nkandla that have gobbled up R246 million of public money.

This weekend the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) met in Cape Town, and discussed among other things the Nkandla report.

Party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu confirmed the NEC discussions on Nkandla and that all the ANC’s top six, including Jessie Duarte, Gwede Mantashe, Baleka Mbete, Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize attended the meeting.

The ANC is expected to hold a media briefing today or tomorrow on the outcome of the NEC deliberations.

Although the ANC appeared to be closing ranks around Zuma in public, a growing number of people within the party, including senior elders, have voiced their concern on the matter. They want Zuma to act on the report.

Despite the public show of unity, a different picture is emerging behind the scenes as the ruling party grapples with moral outrage over the upgrades at Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, while electioneering in Cape Town over the weekend, broke his silence on the matter, urging the government to implement Madonsela’s recommendations.

“It has been investigated by the inter-ministerial task team, as well as the PP and what I was saying is … there are reports, there are recommendations, and those reports must be acted upon,” Motlanthe said.

“What needs to be done has to be done. There is no ‘if not’. That is the right thing to do … Those who must take responsibility, have got to take responsibility.”

Elders in the ANC have also weighed in, notably in favour of the Madonsela report – they include former President Thabo Mbeki, and party stalwarts Pallo Jordan, Ronnie Kasrils, Marion Sparg and Trevor Manuel.

Last week at a prayer service in Cape Town the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said the negative response by the allies of the ANC, government and Cabinet to the Public Protector’s report was tearing the country apart.

“It is not a simple matter of the opposition parties against the ANC. The report is revealing stark fault lines within the ANC, the unions and the Christian clergy.”

Ben Turok, a long-serving ANC MP and the outgoing chairperson of Parliament’s joint ethics committee, this weekend echoed Motlanthe’s comments, saying: “We will lose face as a government and as the ANC if we ignore the report, and I don’t like people who attack Madonsela and criticise her.

“It is a serious report and has a lot of details. She clearly investigated this thing very thoroughly and its recommendations have to be implemented.”

Turok urged the ANC NEC to come clean and not cover up the Nkandla report, saying “if things have been done wrongly and we do know that there have been errors, we must act accordingly”.

“It is better that you face it and you take whatever action necessary because people are not stupid,” he said.

In a scathing newspaper column last week, NEC member Jordan said “although Madonsela does not suggest that Zuma acted corruptly, he cannot evade moral responsibility for what occurred”.

Unfortunately Zuma has been implicated in every scandal that has arisen during his term in office, making it impossible to approach his office in search of a solution, Jordan said.


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