Nkandla files disclosed


The Democratic Alliance said that it would request the Public Protector to investigate reports about President Jacob Zuma's rental for the land which his Nkandla home was built.

NKANDLA - The public works department has released 42 files with over 12,000 pages on President Jacob Zuma&39;s Nkandla homestead upgrade to the Mail & Guardian, the newspaper reported on Friday.

They were disclosed following a request for information -- under the Promotion of Access to Information Act -- about public spending on Zuma&39;s private residence at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.

The request, submitted a year ago, pointed out that the act obliged the department to redact parts of the requested information related to security, while making the rest available.

The documents, released to the newspaper two weeks ago, related to bid evaluations, needs assessments, contracts awarded and their values, as well as documents indicating whether costs were allocated for public or private accounts.

This report was declared top secret and closed to public scrutiny.

The files contained numerous references to documents or annexures that had not been disclosed.

It said there appeared to be no security-related basis for their redaction.

There was nothing in the Nkandla files that could not have been publicly disclosed, except for how senior officials and politicians "scrambled" to meet deadlines set by Zuma, and how short-cuts were taken on tendering processes.

Money was also shifted from other programmes to accommodate the unbudgeted spending.

The Mail & Guardian reported that the cost of the Nkandla homestead ballooned from a R27.8 million plan in 2009 to a projected total of about R270 million in October 2012.

The official expenditure as of June this year was R210.5 million.

This did not appear to include bills yet to be paid.

Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin in June told government that the upgrading of Nkandla was riddled with anomalies.

"We have produced a preliminary report indicating that there are indeed serious anomalies, and strong indications that there has been over-charging, variations in cost," Cronin told the National Assembly.

"The difficulty is that you cannot make sense, that we cannot make sense of our report... unless you also look at the scope of the work: why were particular things ordered in terms of the security requirements?"

Cronin denied opposition claims that government was trying to cover-up a report pointing to these.

"We want this Parliament, as a multi-party institution, to be able to have full scope, without any hindrance, but of course therefore in camera, because we are dealing with security matters and sensitive matters. We are not trying to cover up."

Cronin&39;s statement was met with jeers from the opposition.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) also requested the Public Protector to investigate reports about Zuma&39;s lease for the land on which his Nkandla home is built.

Zuma&39;s rent for the land is believed to be R800 per month.

The opposition party said the amount was much lower than that paid by others living in the impoverished Nkandla community that Zuma originates from.

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