Deep pockets? Zuma’s Nkandla could cost taxpayers even more – Nhleko

When it comes to President Jacob Zuma’s lavish Nkandla homestead, things are not what they seem. Swimming pools magically morph into ‘firepools’, amphitheatres turn into ‘retaining walls’, visitors  centres become ‘security features’. Presumably, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko also managed to keep a straight face when telling Parliament’s ad-hoc committee investigating Nkandla as part of his ministerial report, that the R246 million of taxpayers’ hard-earned cash already spent on security President Jacob Zuma’s safety may not be enough. More could be needed to install additional security, Nhleko would have the committee believe, all because the investigating and public scrutiny may have compromised Zuma’s safety. Nhleko brushes off any suggestion of a conflict of interest in his vocal support for the man who appointed him. His antics make theatre of the absurd sound like perfectly logical construction and argument. This News24 report looks at the background and what happens next in this comedy of errors. – Marika Sboros

Zapiro - Mashatile on Nkandla
Zapiro’s caustic take on the Nkandla scandal.

By Amanda Khoza and Thomas Hartleb

Pietermaritzburg (News24) – More money may need to be spent on Nkandla to install additional security, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said on Tuesday.

This was because public scrutiny had compromised Zuma’s safety, he said.

“The security experts must go back to assess the extent of vulnerability and how the president has been exposed,” Nhleko told Parliament’s ad hoc committee on Nkandla in Pietermaritzburg.

“We won’t know how much it will cost before this exercise is done. But [with] the security issue, we will arrive at a different conclusion because of the re-evaluation.”

The committee, comprised of ANC, DA, ACDP and NFP members, was expected to visit Nkandla on Wednesday. The so-called security upgrades to Zuma’s private home have so far cost taxpayers R246m. EFF and Cope MPs have refused to be part of the committee. Nhleko on Tuesday repeated much of what he said at the release of his own Nkandla report on May 28. He said the amphitheatre and soil retention wall, visitors’ centre, “firepool”, kraal and culvert, were all security features and maintained that Zuma did not have to pay for these.  This contradicted Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s own findings released in March 2014,  that Zuma should pay for those features not related to security, like the pool and the amphitheatre.

Nhleko said presidents did not decide on the extent of their protection and how their homes should be secured.

‘Nkandla is prone to fire’

He dismissed criticism by DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen that having to investigate the man who appointed him was a conflict of interest.

“If your view is that I have arrived at my conclusion because I have been appointed by the president, then it’s fine. Just because you are appointed by the president, it does not mean we owe the president favours,” Nhleko said.

The “firepool” was necessary due to the uThungulu district municipality’s erratic water supply, and the prevalence of fires in the area.

“Nkandla is prone to fires. At some point an old-age home burnt down and a boarding school burnt down.”

He said all state homes had a visitors’ centre, so it was nothing out of the ordinary. According to the engineers, the amphitheatre was intended to function as a retaining wall, at the base of which was an emergency assembly area.

“For purposes of functionality, they themselves refer to it as an amphitheatre,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cope called on opposition parties on the committee to boycott the Nkandla visit.

“It is our view that this visit, following the scandalous ‘Nhleko report’, is a mere ploy to sanction further expenditure on the President’s homestead at Nkandla,” spokesperson Dennis Bloem said in a statement.

In going along, the opposition was lending credibility to a process that had already been predetermined, and which would be settled by a vote in favour of the ruling party.


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