Nkandla: Questions to be answered
Cape Town - Pressure is mounting on the government to lift the veil of secrecy it has thrown over the hundreds of millions of rand being spent on President Jacob Zuma’s rural homestead at Nkandla, with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela set to investigate and Parliament to be asked to hold a special debate on the issue.
Civil society watchdog Corruption Watch has asked Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi to respond by Friday to its questions about the millions being spent on upgrading Nkandla.
The body’s executive director, David Lewis, said on Sunday that citizens had a right to know details of the spending.
“When you spend that quantity of money… you have to account to the public,” he said.
Lewis said the government did not have to divulge details of the security arrangements at Nkandla, but it “certainly has to account for what is being spent”.
Corruption Watch monitors how public funds are used.
The questions it wants answered by Nxesi are:
* Has your department indeed approved the R203-million upgrade of the Nkandla homestead? If so, under what authority?
* Is the president’s Nkandla homestead designated a national key point under the National Key Points Act? If so, when did such designation take place?
* Was the budget for the upgrading of the Nkandla homestead approved by the Ministry of Defence in line with the National Key Points Act?
* Does Annexure E of the Ministerial Handbook set limits on the amount that may be spent on security upgrades of the private residences of cabinet members? If so, what is the amount?
* Is the Special Account for the Safeguarding of National Key Points (established under the National Key Points Act) being used to fund the Nkandla homestead? If so, how much of the account is being used?
Ministry of Public Works spokesman Sabela Mali referred queries to the department’s spokesman, Thamsanqa Mchunu, who did not respond to messages sent to his cellphone.
Madonsela said on Monday she would approach Auditor-General Terence Nombembe for information on his audit of the money - reported to be as much as R238m - spent so far.
She and her staff would meet on Monday to determine her office’s capacity for the probe.
Madonsela first received a request in December that her office investigate the upgrade.
The complainant, whom she did not name, wanted her to establish whether the expenditure was lawful and authorised by the relevant authorities, whether proper tender processes had been followed, and whether the spending was justified.
She said she had a meeting with the Presidency’s director-general, Cassius Lubisi, in February.
He had told her the Presidency was “not responsible for the decisions” as the Zuma family itself was engaged in developing the homestead, and security arrangements were being handled by the Defence Ministry.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko laid another complaint at Madonsela’s door last week.
On Sunday, she welcomed Madonsela’s willingness to investigate and said she would ask National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu for a special debate in Parliament on the upgrade.
Parliament’s watchdog on public spending, the standing committee on public accounts is also to ask questions.
Committee chairman Themba Godi said on Sunday a “thorough explanation” was needed.