19 March 2014

South Africa: Government Responds to Public Protector's Report

South Africa's public ombudsman says some of the $23 million taxpayer-funded refurbishments at President Jacob Zuma's luxurious residence were ... ( Resource: Zuma Must Repay 'Unlawful, Excessive' Home Renovations

Government has welcomed the release of the Public Protector's final report into security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private residence in Nkandla, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

Briefing journalists after a Cabinet meeting in Pretoria, Minister Radebe, flanked by several ministers, said Government re-affirmed its respect to the Constitution, including Chapter 9 institutions, and noted that most of the recommendations made by the Public Protector were already being implemented.

"Government welcomes the release of the final report by the Public Protector into security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private residence at Nkandla.

"Government will reflect on the findings and recommendations contained therein with a view of determining a way forward," Minister Radebe said, noting that the report confirmed the essential findings of government's own investigations into the project.

He said government has, throughout the entire process, respected Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's right to investigate the matter, but maintained that it also had a right to conduct its own investigations into maladministration.

"It is now common cause that there was no political interference in the execution of the project and its investigation by the office of the Public Protector.

"Furthermore the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) is seized with this matter with a view to bring to book those in the public and private sector who are implicated in wrongdoing.

"We note and welcome that the report is categorical in stating that no public funds were used in building the private residence of the President," Minister Radebe said.

Minister Radebe also said the SIU investigation into maladministration by public and private sector officials was at an advanced stage, and added that the report would guide government into what disciplinary action would need to be taken. "The report will be forwarded to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecutorial consideration.

"The Department of Public Works has developed a revised policy and norms and standards for management and control of particular Prestige Projects.

"It closes the loopholes identified by the government investigation reports such as approval systems, financial delegation and tightens controls on supply chain processes. Further to this policy, the financial delegations to regional officials in Prestige Projects has since been withdrawn.

"The Department of Public Works has finalised the cost apportionment of the project for recovery of funds from SA Police Services and the Department of Defence," the Minister said.

Minister Radebe called on law-enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned during its investigations.

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