9 February 2016

South Africa: Nkandla Matter Traumatised SA - Gauntlett

Photo: Govt of South Africa
President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla saga had "traumatised the nation in many ways", his lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett told the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

This was why Zuma had proposed that the court order the Auditor General and Treasury to determine how much of the R246 million spent on upgrades to his private home in KwaZulu-Natal he should repay.

Gauntlett said as it stood, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had recommended remedial action, but a review of these recommendations had to be carried out.

The Public Protector Act was a "statutory curiosity" and did not elaborate on what had to be done regarding remedial action, he said.

Zuma accepted that Madonsela wanted certain things done. The president differed on how it had to be done.

Gauntlett said Zuma accepted there was a "problem with perception" regarding Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's report on Nkandla. He found Zuma did not have to repay anything as, according to him, all the upgrades at Nkandla were necessary for security. These included the amphitheatre, visitor's centre, cattle kraal, chicken run, and swimming pool.

Zuma rejected suggestions that the list of what he should pay for should be broadened to more than these five items, which Madonsela had indicated were not necessary for security.

Gauntlett said Zuma accepted that the ministers involved in the controversy be reprimanded, and that this should be part of the court's order.

He would however reject an order stating that he had been defiant, because this could be used against him in impeachment proceedings.

"This is a delicate time in a dangerous year, societally," Gauntlett said.

Gauntlett said Madonsela was like an ombudsman who did a "quick and dirty" assessment of the situation, then wanted somebody else to calculate how much was owed.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng wanted to know how the costs would be calculated and whether the amounts used would be the inflated figures submitted in tenders.

For example, the swimming pool, initially called a "firepool", cost around R2.6m, compared with a Department of Public Works (DPW) estimate of R240 000.

Gauntlett said Madonsela had indicated that Zuma should repay a reasonable percentage of the cost because she knew it was a "rip-off operation under DPW tutelage".

The case continues.

Source: News24

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