#NkandlaReport: Excessive spending in the name of security

Robyn Frost

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We hope that President Jacob Zuma’s response to Thuli Mandonsela’s report into the irregularities of the upgrades of his private homestead isn’t his famous phrase ‘umshini wam umshini wam”. One has to commend the brevity the Public Protector showed at the release of the report yesterday in Pretoria, Gauteng. Her voice was low, sometimes shaky […]

We hope that President Jacob Zuma’s response to Thuli Mandonsela’s report into the irregularities of the upgrades of his private homestead isn’t his famous phrase ‘umshini wam umshini wam”. One has to commend the brevity the Public Protector showed at the release of the report yesterday in Pretoria, Gauteng. Her voice was low, sometimes shaky and not amplified much yet what she had to say was laced with the power to implicate and damn the country’s number one citizen. And that she did.

Her job is that of scrutiny: to decide whether the ANC or Zuma had exceeded their boundaries of authority during the renovation of Jacob Zuma’s private homestead in Northern KZN. In this case, Mandonsela has done her job exceptionally well but she may need some protection for herself, not because Zuma is about to fetch his machine gun but because her findings may be slammed by the ANC.

Final Report 19 March 2014 -1

The year-long investigation, titled Secure In Comfort – now down to 443 pages – is filled with details of what Mandonsela finds to be the truth about Nkandla.

Were there irregularities? The answer is simply YES.

The public protector found that:

1. The implementation of the security upgrades failed to comply with ethics laws.

2. Zuma misled parliament by mistake

3.  Zuma’s brother did not  benefit  from the upgrades but the upgrades do add value to the private property and so his family HAS benefitted from the upgrades.

4.The police minister is guilty of improper conduct.

5.Relocation of Zuma’s neighbours (sounds reminiscent of the forced removals of Apartheid) also found to be too expensive – it cost 8 million rand to move the houses and 18 rondavels were built.

6. The helipad and clinic could have been built in a way to benefit the community.

7.The main money-eaters were not on the security upgrades but on the private ones.

8. They went overboard with expenditure

9.Funds meant for other public projects were instead redirected to Nkandla

10. Several of the renovations were not security upgrades – the Cattle kraal , chicken run , amphitheatre & visitors center should not have been built

11. There was a failure to explore more economical or community beneficial options

Read the full report here 

NEXT: Thuli Slams Zuma’s private architect

The provisional draft report says that the appointment of the chief architect, Minenhle Makhanya, was on Zuma’s instruction without going to tender and amounted to undue political interference. In the newest version Mandonsela implicated Makhanya heavily saying that he replaced most designs that were originally agreed upon with more expensive ones. He would design something more luxurious and motivate why it was needed. Low level officials may have been intimidated by the architect that is speaking on authority of Zuma and in direct line with president and were therefore unlikely to disagree with the architect. The protector referred to the Safe Haven (or bunker) which the architect moved at a cost of half a million rand. In it’s new location, the bunker cost  19 million rand and is not even done yet. The private architect earned 16,5 million rand from the project on a percentage basis, meaning the more expensive the renovations, the more he earned.

And the world’s most famous pool?

Is it a fire pool  or will Zuma be giving Chad Le Clos and Cameron Van de Berg a run , I mean , ‘swim’ for their money?

If you remember, Jacob Zuma called his own investigation which found that the pool was in fact a fire pool and not intended for swimming but rather to ensure that there was enough water on hand in the event of an inferno. (You would need a lot of water to put out a fire at such a huge house) This is one of the key differences when comparing their report to that of the public protectors’. Mandonsela found that installations such as the swimming pool could not be accepted as security upgrades.  The swimming pool was put on hold numerous times as it was  seen as a non-security upgrade.


Thuli Mandonsela describes the spending as “ opulence at a grand scale”. She says that 23 million rand was paid for by tax, we’ll leave the grand total for the end. Jacob Zuma clearly likes swimming in the deep end and plunging in head first. He should have checked the water by raising questions about the cost of all of this. In an interview with Talk Radio 702 this morning Mandonsela said that even if Zuma had not seen the menu at first, he should have still asked if things were affordable.

It’s pay back time

Thuli recommends that Zuma reprimand ministers for the abuse of state funds – give them a little slap on the wrist. Although the ministers will probably dodge responsibility and finger someone or something else – anything to get them out of the line of fire (anyone know of a pool they could jump into?). The protector  has called Zuma to pay back a reasonable percentage of the upgrades that do not constitute security.

Newsteam ANN7 jokingly tweeted Zuma’s ‘exclusive’ reaction:

ANN7 Tweets: We have exclusive footage of President Zuma's response to Madonsela instructing him to refund monies. #NkandlaReport
ANN7 Tweets: We have exclusive footage of President Zuma’s response to Madonsela instructing him to refund monies. #NkandlaReport

But South Africans reactions may be less than jovial and may agree with these suggestions. There is no laughable part or up side to this besides that it may be less damning than what we expected. Some of us expect the worst – the absolute worst.

While South Africans’ attention moved away from Oscar for a day and a half, Defense Advocate in the trial,  Barry Roux tweeted along with the country:

Barry Roux ‏@BarryRouxLaw
In exchange for defending him Mr Zuma has promised that I will be allowed to use his firepool whenever I want. #NkandlaReport

Barry Roux ‏@BarryRouxLaw
This #NkandlaReport is madness. Why are we wasting our time with #OscarPistorius and not putting our President on trial? (don’t agree with Oscar trial being a waste of time Barry , but the second part – you may be onto something there.

How is Thuli mandonsela’s  report different from the government’s inter-ministerial report releade in December?

The inter-ministerial report states :

1. The state has an obligation to current and former president

2. Expert team ran security risk assessments

3. Found that allegations that the president used state resources to build and upgrade unfounded

4. The president needed to be provided with water and power and health facilities

5. Department of public works were to manage the cost

6. Security upgrades cost 71 million rand and 135 million for basic facilities and services

What happened to servant style leadership?

Township Sanitation _0097

People have been waiting years for housing- one so small you can’t even turn around in it.People walk for hours for water while the president has built a ‘firepool’  at enormous cost right next to his home- for security reasons apparently. The presidents spending is nothing short of greed especially while a number of South Africans live in adverse poverty.In Zuma’s state of the nation address of 2014 he said that there will be a roll out of sanitation services to South Africa as the dignity of the people is important to him. The cost of one RDP house is said to be around R54 000 – how many of these houses could have been built with the money used for Zuma’s upgrades?If the country’s number on citizen really cared for the people and their dignity then why did he not take some of this money and use it for the good of the country? What Zuma has done here does not carry his message of creating a better life for all very well. Here, he has only seen to himself.

Township Sanitation _0278The issue is not that he installed security upgrades but the amount of money spent on it and the fact that it could have been used to better someone else’s life – someone who really needs it. The government always complains that they can’t deliver more housing , sanitation facilities , security at schools because there are no funds available. Yet, there is 250 million rand available for Zuma to buy a pool, a visitors center and laundry room. Please explain why clean clothing is important for security reasons? The bottom line is while Zuma lives in luxury, people in his country live in shacks. This is one of the reasons why the presence of Zuma has been met with ‘boos’ of late.

The ANC’s report found that the state has an obligation to former and current presidents. South Africans can not disagree with that. Shockingly though, research shows that the current president has spent the most out of all previous presidents. Zuma’s spending is a whopping R23251602 , five times the amount spent by Thabo Mbeki.


Impact of the report on the electorate :

Most of the electorate have already made up their minds about who they will be voting for. There may be a rise in the opposition support and that of some new parties. The question remains disgruntled if  ANC supporters will still go to the polls or decide on a  stay away vote.

“people’s minds are already made up at this point. There is still a swing vote but the ANC has already got its constituency. The question is whether the swing vote will vote on the day or stay at home” says Zwelethu Jolobe, political lecturer at UCT.

There has also been church meetings and prayers held for Thuli Mandonsela as some claim that her offices has evil spirits in it. One has to wonder how much of this was incited by the ANC? You cannot disagree with something without basis. Madonsela’s critics will need to come up with something better than the boogey man and tokoloshe’s.

So, what happens next ?

DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko is expected to table a motion to impeach the president . Whether this is successful or not ,the after taste of the Nkandla saga is bound to be less than sweet.  Mac Maharaj says Zuma will communicate after studying the report . He has 14 days to respond. Will Zuma still be the president or will he be recalled? It’s now up to the ANC to act against the number one. It’s a fitting term for this case since it seems that Zuma has only looked out for number one- ie himself.

Now, you need to decide if you will stand for this and if it will affect the way you cast your  vote on the 7th of May?


As the electorate we need to answer Thuli’s question yesterday :

“What happened and what should have happened and is there a difference ? ”

According to Thuli’s findings there was. The total cost for Nkandla was R246 million rand which she calls excessive and unconscionable spending in the name of security”


Images of Thuli: http://www.sabc.co.za/wps/portal/news/main/tag?tag=Thuli%20Madonsela

Sanitation images by Masixole Feni

Follow Robyn Frost on Twitter @frosttheradioDJ

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