On Sunday, Zuma spoke out about the Nkandla investigations for the first time since the Public Protector released a report that found he had unduly benefitted from upgrades almost two weeks ago.
Zuma said he did not ask for the multi-million rand state funded project, which initially was aimed at strengthening security of the President’s KwaZulu Natal homestead.
The President said that government officials had done this without telling him and asked why he should pay for something he did not ask for, during a door-to-campaign in Gugulethu, Western Cape.
Political analyst Daniel Silke believes Zuma can be justified in not knowing what was going on at Nkandla as being a President comes with many other responsibilities.
“The President of the country is not a good micro manager, but in his defence, he has to macro manage things from dealing with foreign policy, briefings and ceremonies to other matters of the state. He cannot monitor all aspects, being President is a very exhausting job,” said Silke.
Silke said that primarily, Zuma has a tendency to distance himself from day to day activities and is more of a ceremonial type of president as opposed to taking an active role in governance. Therefore he is not always hands-on and must delegate tasks to members of the government.
“He does tend to absolve himself of responsibility to those within his circle,” said Silke.
Dealing with matters of state and entrusting his cabinet with other tasks may have been the downfall to what has now become known as the Nkandlagate, Silke suggests.
“He was let down if he did entrust spending and management to cabinet colleagues who ultimately embarrassed him,” said Silke.
However, Silke said that given the amount of money and the personal nature of the Nkandla upgrades, Zuma should have had a more hands on approach.
“Zuma should have been aware of the issues. The lack of oversight and accountability from the relevant cabinet ministers on the part of the president is one of the core problems,” he said.
“This does ask questions of Zuma’s ability to manage and run the country.”
Another problem Silke identified was the fact that Zuma has chosen to surround himself in government with supporters, permitting cronyism and political patronage networks.
“He has surrounded himself with loyal supporters, some of whom have failed him on Nkandla,” he said.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the President of the country is not expected to micro-manage anything as far as the law is concerned.
“The President as head of government of South Africa is not expected to micro-manage projects as he has cabinet ministers who have departments under them and then provincial and municipal (officials) who work on projects,” said Maharaj.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said the R246 million spent on renovations was excessive and recommended that Zuma pay pack a portion of the costs.
The ballooned costs include a private clinic, helipad, swimming pool, cattle kraal as well as the relocation of neighbours.