20 March 2014

South Africa: Nkandla Report Release Mostly Welcomed

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

Pretoria — Political parties and bodies mostly welcomed the release of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead on Wednesday.

Government said it would reflect on the findings and recommendations contained in Madonsela's report with a view to determining the way forward.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said the Special Investigating Unit was investigating the matter "to bring those in the public and private sectors who are implicated to book".

"The ministers of public works, police, defence have taken full accountability for this project and through government investigation, has unearthed issues of maladministration and corruption in this project," he said.

The Democratic Alliance, in welcoming the findings, said it would initiate impeachment proceedings against Zuma.

"Given these damning findings, I will submit a formal request to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, to recall the National Assembly as a matter of urgency to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Zuma," DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said in a statement.

"Impeachment is the correct course of action for this flagrant abuse of public money."

The presidency, following the report's release, said it would be used as an added tool to address claims of maladministration.

Spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement that Zuma directed the Special Investigating Unit in December to probe alleged maladministration in the security upgrades at Nkandla.

He had also appointed an inter-ministerial task team to look into the matter.

"In this context, the Public Protector's report will be an additional tool which will fall under the consideration of President Zuma in addressing allegations of maladministration."

The Freedom Front Plus lent support to possible impeachment proceedings against Zuma.

FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said Zuma should repay taxpayers' money used for the upgrades.

"It should also be considered to impeach Zuma where he, together with the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, should account to Parliament how it is possible that an initial R27 million for security could eventually amount to R247 million," Groenewald said.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the report marked one of the darkest moments in the country's history since democracy.

"The findings that President Zuma has once again violated the Executive Members Ethics Code through his failure to act in protection of state resources...and has unduly benefited from the enormous capital investment, must be offensive to any nation that takes pride in the values espoused in its constitution."

Parliament, in noting the release of the report, said Zuma would need to submit a copy to the National Assembly (NA).

"According to the Public Protector, the investigation was conducted on the basis of the Executive Member's Ethics Act 82 of 1998," Parliament said in a statement.

In terms of this Act, and per the public protector's pronouncement, Zuma had to, within a reasonable time but not later than 14 days submit a copy of the report to the NA.

Such a report must, in terms of the Act, contain the president's comments together with any action taken or to be taken in regard to the report.

"At this point, the National Assembly has not received a copy of the report," Parliament said.

An African National Congress press conference scheduled for Wednesday following the report's release was delayed to Thursday.

"We must first give our government a chance to respond. So our press conference is postponed to tomorrow [Thursday]" spokesman Jackson Mthembu told reporters in Johannesburg.

"We need to apply our minds adequately to the report so that we don't just come here with something that we have not applied our minds to."

Madonsela's report found that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the upgrades to his private homestead in Nkandla.

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