PARLIAMENT - Opposition parties on Thursday rejected a report by police minister Nathi Nhleko clearing President Jacob Zuma of any financial liability for security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) branding the report a whitewash and an “insult to the South African people”.
“The DA will not allow the President to get away with the theft of public funds,” South Africa’s biggest opposition party leader Mmusi Maimane said.
“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.”
Maimane said his party would first await the terms of reference of an ad hoc committee to consider Nhleko’s report, set to be established next week, before deciding 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,” he said.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said it would forge ahead with its “pay back the money” campaign, despite the report by Nhleko.
“We are going to look at all platforms that we can use in order to demand this money because we feel that Zuma is owing the public this money,” said EFF MP Hlengiwe Maxon.
“Even if it means that EFF must take a position that we must go to court we can do that because we want justice to be done on this matter," added Maxon.
"We are not going to rest until Zuma pays back some portion of the money on Nkandla.”
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said while it expected some degree of exoneration as Nhleko was part of a cabinet which wanted to protect the president at all cost, it remained shocked.
“I am shocked that the minister of police has found that President Zuma does not have to repay a thing for the additional upgrades at his Nkandla residence,” said ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe.
“Whilst we appreciate the need to protect the president and his family, the costs incurred to date are exorbitant and have caused public outrage.”
The ruling party has however welcomed Nhleko’s findings.
“We appreciate the minister of police’s elaborate report, with exceptional expert opinion, which went beyond the call by the Public Protector’s recommendation,” ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said.
In March last year, the Public Protector found that Zuma had unduly benefitted from security upgrades worth R246 million, and recommended he pay back a portion of the public funds used for the project.
However, Nhleko’s report submitted to Parliament on Thursday contradicts Madonsela’s findings that a cattle kraal, swimming pool, amphitheatre, chicken run, and visitor’s centre were “non-security upgrades”.
“The report [by Nhleko] further conclusively proves that features such as the pool, visitors’ centre and amphitheatre were not erected at the president’s private residence, but in the outer perimeter fence nearby president’s residence,” the ANC said.
“As such these do not amount to any direct “undue benefit” to the President and his family. The experts who conducted an evaluation for the purpose of this report are highly regarded and independent.”
The ANC said it supported the fast-tracking of processes to establish an ad hoc committee of Parliament to consider Nhleko’s report.
African News Agency