Nkandla Report remains a mystery

President Jacob Zuma's personal architect Minenhle Makhanya drew up the plans for Nkandla.

File: Following a Constitutional Court ruling last year, that found Parliament had failed to adequately hold former president Jacob Zuma to account over the Nkandla scandal MPs on the Committee on Review of Assembly Rules are now busy with the requisite amendments. 

AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) is meeting to discuss a report into the upgrade of the president&39;s homestead on Wednesday.

Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin conceded on Tuesday that the upgrading of President Jacob Zuma&39;s Nkandla residence 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.

He defended a decision to table the findings of an internal investigation on Nkandla before Parliament&39;s joint standing committee on intelligence -- which meets behind closed doors -- and said it was done on the "wise and correct" advice of Speaker Max Sisulu.

It was not problematic to disclose aspects relating to public works&39; role in the controversial R206 million upgrade, said Cronin.

However, security considerations underpinning the work could be heard only in closed committee.

"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.

He was responding to a statement by Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who said Public Works Minister Tulas Nxesi had "classified" the report.

She challenged Nxesi to state, within a day-and-a-half, his reasons for keeping the report under wraps, and the official process he had relied on to do so.

She said it remained unclear under which act the report was tagged "classified", adding, the National Key Points Act did not give Nxesi the power to classify documents.

Mazibuko said she believed the true reason was "to cover up the events surrounding the scandal to protect those at the top".

On Monday, Mazibuko said a state law adviser had told Sisulu the report was classified, and therefore his office had referred it to a closed committee.

"This brings into question whether Minister Nxesi deliberately set out to hide the information contained in the report at the very outset, and whether he was wrong in requesting that the report be handled behind closed doors," Mazibuko said.

She added, on Monday, "If he (Nxesi) does not respond before the commencement of the consideration of the report at JSCI on Wednesday, the DA will move a motion in the committee that the report be referred back to the minister for it to be made public and accordingly tabled before the appropriate public committee."

 

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