|29. May 2015
Zuma doesn't have to pay back a cent - report
Despite the outcry over Jacob Zuma's extensive upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, the police minister has found all upgrades were necessary.
In fact, more money will have to be spent for further security upgrades that were not completed due to the various investigations, which were an invasion of the president and his family’s privacy. Presenting the 50-page Nkandla report on Thursday, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko absolved the president and said the fire pool, animal enclosure, the amphitheatre [also called a soil retention wall], and the visitor’s centre were all security features, and some were even necessary.
This after the public protector Thuli Madonsela said in a report last year that Zuma had unfairly benefited from the use of state funds to renovate his home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. According to the police minister, the swimming pool is the best source of water in case of fire, the kraal is a cultural necessity, and the visitors’ centre the most vital security feature and the amphitheatre, a ground retaining wall that also serves as the family’s emergency assembly area. In his report, Nhleko said the president was not liable to pay for any of the security features in question and more work, including installation of motion detectors, still had to be done. “It is noted that there are features or equipment recommended for the private residence of the president by security practitioners, which are not yet installed. Most of the installations have been halted due to ongoing investigations. One such example is the motion detection beams constituting the inner perimeter of the high security zone and the control room. The Pan, Tilt and Zoom camera monitors with recording capabilities are also not yet installed, however, such equipment is recommended in the SAPS security appraisal report. “The outstanding security related work at Nkandla should be funded and completed expeditiously, including the re-evaluation of the current physical security measures. In this instance, the laws and prescripts are to be followed to the letter. Both the Special Investigating Unit and the Parliamentary Committee report alluded to the urgent need for a new security evaluation to be conducted at the president’s residence in Nkandla.” Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said he did not know how much more money would have to be spent on Nkandla.
“We have to do careful review, together with the police based on their report, so that we don’t repeat the previous mistakes of wastage, overpricing and so on. But we remain to say, we will implement what has been recommended by those who are in security, to deal with the security of the president, the previous president and deputy president as is the norm. So no, we don’t know how much will have to be spent. We will just rely on the police, what they say needs to be reviewed and needs to be done.” Nhleko, who said he did not feel conflicted at all about having to investigate Nkandla, and said all his report did was deal with the issues that were under dispute and it would then have to be scrutinised in Parliament.
He said the investigations were an unprecedented exposure of a president’s security detail and it would need security practitioners to analyse the extent to which the report contributed to continued manifest threats around the president and how such threats should be mitigated. “Never in South Africa’s history or anywhere else in the world has a president’s private residence been subjected to such intense public scrutiny. Therefore, the president and his family’s rights have been violated.” The report was tabled in Parliament on Thursday morning and presented to media in the afternoon, complete with video demonstrations of the firepool and the cultural significance of the chicken run and kraal. According to the report, the fire pool, was the best water source that is available on site at Nkandla to replenish the fire engine. This was determined after a firefighting capacity test was done, “using the open water source, namely the swimming pool, on one hand and also using the fire hydrant that is linked to the water reservoir supplying household, on the other hand. “The local Nkandla and Umhlathuze fire and rescue services were requested to deploy their equipment such as suction pump with double outlet, monitors with water compression and stand. The suction pump could also be used to refill the fire truck getting water from the swimming pool.” Nhleko said another feature, the Kraal, had significant spiritual and cultural value that extended beyond the storage of animals.
“Since the family kraal was located in the high security zone, the continuous use of the family kraal would interfere with the security motion detectors. It is recommended that the animals be relocated to the periphery of the homestead and outside the inner high security zone and within the outer perimeter security fence.” According to the report, the visitor’s centre constitutes the most vital security feature and needed to be completed to the appropriate executive standard as soon as possible. “The visitor’s centre at Nkandla is strategically positioned such that it allows for the necessary security separation from private activities within family dwellings and the President’s official and public engagements at such a facility.” Nhleko said the president was a head of state, even when he was home and needed to have a space to receive guests. With regards to the ampitheatre, he said the homestead dwellers were expected to be able to get to an assembly point as per emergency drills provided for in the SAPS security evaluation report. “In case of major security emergencies, security drills and demonstrations by law enforcement officers, as well as emergency services would be able to assemble for briefing and debriefing at this particular point.” The ANC office of the chief whip welcomed the report, and said they were “encouraged with the progress made in taking corrective steps against the civil servants who did not follow the rules and law thus placing the security of the president, his family and the state at serious risk.” The Democratic Alliance, however, said the minister’s determination was an insult to South Africans.
“The DA will not allow the president to get away with the theft of public funds. We have, therefore, referred the matter to our legal team for the consideration of the rationale of Minister Nhleko’s determination, and our constitutional and legal remedies. With regard to the consideration of the report by the Nkandla Ad Hoc Committee scheduled to be resurrected early next week, we will await the terms of reference before making a decision on how to proceed. “The DA will vociferously fight for the terms of reference to include all relevant personnel who consulted with Minister Nhleko to come to this determination and we will not be forced to accept narrow terms of reference in a last-ditch attempt to make us complicit in this cover-up.”
(Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)