19 December 2013

South Africa: Irregularities Rife in Nkandla Upgrades - Nxesi

Photo: G Stolley/Sapa
President Jacob Zuma's residence in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal (file photo).

Many irregularities were identified in the appointment of service providers and procurement of goods and services in the security upgrade of President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, a Cabinet minister said on Thursday.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi told journalists in Pretoria he had engaged the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Auditor General for forensic and criminal investigations.

"There are many supply chain irregularities in relation to the appointment of service providers and procurement of goods and services," he said at the release of a task team report into the over R206 million upgrade to Zuma's home.

"For instance large variation orders and a high percentage spent in consultancy fees point to the possibility of over-pricing and collusion."

He said Zuma had signed a proclamation empowering the SIU to institute further investigations.

Summarising the report into the controversial upgrade, Nxesi said Zuma had not asked for the upgrade. He said "the so-called swimming pool" was a "fire pool" constructed as the most viable option for firefighting.

Allegations that Zuma used state resources to build and upgrade the homestead were unfounded.

"As it will be shown in the findings of the task team report, no state funds were used to build the president's private residence," he said.

"The requirement to provide security for presidents, both sitting and retired, remains the responsibility of government. The Ministerial Handbook did not adequately address security around the head of state, deputy president and their families."

Nxesi said families neighbouring the KwaZulu-Natal homestead were moved because they posed a security threat. It was up to his department to implement the security recommendations of the security cluster of ministers.

"The neighbouring families had to be relocated as they were identified as a security risk to have them within the high-security zone," he said.

"A feature known as the chicken run was constructed within the cattle kraal. It was created as a replacement to a number of building block structures that were scattered around some of the main dwellings which were obstructions and potential hiding areas for intruders."

Regarding the controversial tuck shop, among other things, Nxesi said the state was duty-bound to construct it, after relocating it.

"The tuck shop existed long before the president was inaugurated and was relocated within the three hectare land of the president.

"Due to the security risk posed by the movement of people [customers], the tuck shop had to be relocated from within the premises and erected at the perimeter of the premises," said Nxesi.

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