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Corruption Watch, DA seek access to Nkandla report

29th January 2013

By: Creamer Media Reporter

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Civil society organisation Corruption Watch (CW) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) are seeking access to the investigation report into the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on Sunday released the findings of an investigation into whether State funds had been used for building Zuma’s Nkandla home. The report stated that public funds were not used for the construction of the home.

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The Minister pointed out, however, that R71-million of government funds had been used for security upgrades at the complex and R135-million spent on the operational needs of State departments.

Opposition parties and media previously claimed that the President had used up to R250-million of State funds to upgrade his private residence in Nkandla.

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Further, Nxesi admitted at the weekend that there were a number of irregularities with regard to the appointment of service providers and the procurement of goods and services in relation to the home.

“In view of the irregularities found by the task team, the report will be referred to the law enforcement agencies, including the Special Investigation Unit, the Auditor General and the South African Police Service, with a view to investigate any possible acts of criminality,” Nxesi said at the time.

“It is a slap in the face of accountability and transparency for the report, which makes a number of unsubstantiated assertions, to remain secret. This casts yet another shadow over this shameful saga and makes it clear that the Public Works Minister is engaged in a concerted campaign to protect President Zuma from accountability at all costs,” DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said in a statement on Tuesday.

She also called on Zuma to “do the right thing and intervene to ensure that his government tables the report in Parliament for proper scrutiny and debate”.

Mazibuko further revealed that DA Shadow Public Works Minister Anchen Dreyer had made a formal request to Portfolio Committee on Public Works chairperson Manana Mabuza for the report to be tabled and discussed by the committee.

Meanwhile, CW wanted the Minister to publish the names of the companies or individuals who were awarded the contracts to perform the Nkandla upgrade.

Nxesi’s report highlighted that 15 service providers, including consultants, were contracted by the Department of Public Works (DPW) to render various services ranging from the installation of bulletproof windows, security fence construction and many other services.

“The information on the awarding of contracts does not fall within information relating to security measures and we see no reason for keeping this away from the public,” said CW executive director David Lewis.

CW was concerned about the procurement process for the project.

“Considering the public money spent on the upgrade, it is appropriate for the Minister to reveal the details of the tender process, as well as explain how the amounts mentioned in Sunday’s press briefing were arrived at and budgeted for.

“Transparency around these issues will go a long way towards establishing public trust in the government,” Lewis added.

The organisation also wanted to know whether projects that fall under the DPW’s ‘prestige portfolio’, like the Nkandla upgrade, were subject to procurement rules as laid out in public finance management legislation.

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