Nkandla: Minister calls for City Press probe

2012-10-02 11:12
Adriaan Basson
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi will launch an investigation into how City Press had obtained documentation revealing a R203 million budget for upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

Speaking for the first time after Sunday’s exposé, Nxesi defended the expenditure, but refused to confirm the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on the project.

He, however, slammed City Press for publishing details from “top secret” documentation.

“The merely unlawful possession of a top secret (document) is a breach of the laws ... This therefore calls for an investigation to be launched to determine how the City Press illegally ended up in possession of this document,” Nxesi said.

Two unclassified documents in the possession of City Press show that Public Works approved a budget of R203 million for upgrades to Zuma’s compound.

Another document confirms that R44 million had already been spent on “security measures”.

Nxesi defended the expenditure, saying it was in line with the Ministerial Handbook.

“I would like to state categorically that everything that has been approved and carried out at the private residence of the current president is in line with the Ministerial Handbook as far as it relates to security arrangements for private residences of the President,” Nxesi said.

“This is also the normal practice for the former presidents of South Africa.”

Zuma’s Nkandla homestead was a national key point.

“Therefore, any information relating to security measures of a National Key Point is protected from disclosure in terms of the Act, the provisions of the Protection of Information Act, the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS) and other relevant security prescripts of the State Security Agency.

“You are therefore informed that the department of public works will not be in a position to divulge details of security improvements carried out at the president’s private residence. We are not aware of the amounts referred to in the City Press article ... relating to the renovations.”

Yesterday, Britain’s The Telegraph quoted Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj online as saying: “What do you do when President Obama or an African head of state visits him? You can’t send them to a hotel.”

Maharaj added: “Where do Prime Minister Cameron’s security staff stay when he goes to his private house? President Zuma’s medical and security staff are inside that complex, but you can’t put them in the same house as his family.”

Zuma should not be expected to pay for security staff accommodation and guests from his own pocket, Maharaj said.

Yesterday, the DA’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the Nkandla expenditure.