The private home of former South African President Jacob Zuma, situated about 24 km (15 mi) south of the rural town of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, commonly referred to as the Nkandla homestead has been the subject of considerable controversy. The use of public funds to make improvements to the compound, which were said to be for security reasons, which cost over R246 million led to significant media coverage and political opposition. A report of the Public Protector found that Zuma unduly benefited from these improvements and the Constitutional Court subsequently found that Zuma and the National Assembly failed to uphold the country's constitution after he failed to comply with the Public Protector's report on the matter. Zuma finally apologised for using public money to fund his private residence and in April 2016 he was asked to resign by prominent public figures, including anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, due to the scandal. The controversy is sometimes referred to as Nkandlagate.
|Architectural style||Rondavel architecture|
|Town or city||Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal|
|Construction started||29 August 2009|
|Cost||ZAR R 246 631 303|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Minenhle Makhanya at Minenhle Makhanya Architects|
|Main contractor||CA du Toit (Security Consultant)|
Ibhongo Consulting Structural Engineering & Civil Engineering
Igoda Projects (Pty) Ltd Electrical Engineering
R&G Consultants Quantity Surveying
Minenhle Makhaya Architects Architect & Principle Agent
Mustapha & Cachalia CC Mechanical Engineering
Ramcon Project Management
The compound is situated on land owned by the Ingonyama Trust, the legal entity that owns the traditional land administered by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu on behalf of the state for the benefit of its occupants.
Improvements made to the compoundEdit
The South African government public works department built a helipad, underground bunkers, security and their accommodation, a firepool, a chicken-run, and fencing around the entire complex. According to the ministerial handbook, the department can spend R100,000 on security improvements at the private houses of public officials. Any costs above that must be covered by the official. Over R200,000,000 has appeared to be allocated by the department. The controversial firepool that was built is described as being part of "questionable security renovations".
Statements by spokesmen have mentioned an apartheid-era law, the National Key Points Act, as explanation for the spending discrepancy, but that spending should come from a different department. The leaked documentation also hints at vastly inflated prices for the work done, much of it not going out to tender, and huge consulting fees.
Prior to the upgrades, then Deputy President Jacob Zuma was suspended from his post pending his rape trial and allegation of racketeering and corruption. On 6 April 2009 charges against him were dropped by the National Prosecuting Agency, citing political interference. On 9 May 2009 he was inaugurated as the fourth post-apartheid President of South Africa. A month later between the 18th and 29 May a security assessment was carried out at his private residence in Nkandla. Construction started on 29 August 2009.
Mail & GuardianEdit
The initial story was uncovered by the Mail & Guardian journalists Mandy Rossouw and Chris Roper. During that period, it was reported that the expansion to the compound would cost R65 million, paid for by the taxpayer. Expansion to the compound included the installation of a helipad, visitors' center, private military hospital and parking lot. Mail & Guardian's investigative unit, the amaBhungane, uncovered that the initial phase would include building a double-storey house and a guest house at a projected cost of over R19.4 million. As soon as the story broke out, government denied having a hand in the upgrades. The public work spokesperson contradicted initial statements by the government, "Please note that there is no work or extension project taking place at President Jacob Zuma's compound at Nkandla." During the site visit at the compound by the journalists, a contractor working at the site speculated that the costs of the expansion were likely to later increase.
Between 13 December 2011 and 12 December 2012 complaints were lodged to the Public Protector. The first complaint was by a public member who expressed concern over the revelations and requested an investigation into the misuse of state funds, allegations which were published by the M&G. On 30 September 2012, former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader[clarification needed] also lodged a similar complaint, as did three other members of the public between October and November 2012.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's final report on security upgrades to the compound titled "Secure in comfort" was published on 19 March 2014. The provisional report, published by the Mail & Guardian on 29 November 2013, was entitled "Opulence on a Grand Scale". In both the provisional and final reports Madonsela found that Zuma had benefited unduly from the R246 million the state had spent on the upgrades.
"Like all South Africans I have recently read in the media the appalling story of the sums of taxpayers’ money being spent on the private residence of President Jacob Zuma. This is opulence on a grand scale and as an honest, loyal, taxpaying South African I need to understand how this is allowed to happen. Strangely civil society is quiet. This is wrong and highlights the complete disregard which this Government has for the citizens of this country. Where is this money coming from and how has it been approved?"
The investigation was conducted in terms of the provisions section 182 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution) and sections 6 and 7 of the Public Protector Act, 1994 (the Public Protector Act). Part of the investigation was also conducted in terms of sections 3 and 4 of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, 1998 (the Executive Members’ Ethics Act).
In her investigation,[clarification needed] Madonsela said that the Ministerial Handbook had a maximum security spending of R100 000 should The Minister of Public Works issue approval. Since the house at Nkandla is privately owned by the President, he would only be granted R100 000 for security measures. Therefore the President would have acted in violation of the Ministerial Handbook.
On 13 January 2013 the Public Protector informed the President that she would be unable to conclude her report within the prescribed 30 day period - Section 3(2) of the Executive Members' Ethics Act states that: "if the Public Protector reports at the end of the 30 day period that the investigation has not been completed, the Public Protector must submit a report when the investigation has been completed". The President suggested to Public protector that she had failed to comply with the 30 day period and to report that the investigation was ongoing and whether the process was justifiable. The President and his lawyers tried to negate the validity of the investigation by requiring the Public protector to indicate whether President had the power to condone any non-compliance. There is no provision in the Constitution, that authorises the President to condone any action or omission of the Public Protector.
The security cluster, which is composed of government ministers, raised security questions about the conclusion of the investigation. Eventually the Public Protector was taken to court on 8 November 2013 for not giving the security cluster enough time to study the Provisional Report released beforehand.
Constitutional Court judgementEdit
On 31 March 2016, the Constitutional Court delivered a unanimous ruling stating that the Public Protector's report was binding and Zuma and the National Assembly failed to uphold the country's constitution. The court ordered National Treasury to determine the amount that Zuma must pay back and ordered Zuma to do so within 45 days of the court's approval of the National Treasury report.
Police prevented Helen Zille from approaching the compound on 4 November 2012, she intended "to see what a R250-million renovation with public money looks like." She was referring to the security upgrades of R246 million which is multiple times larger than security upgrades to previous presidents' homes. Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the opposition party adopted a "cowboy style" approach to getting the answers it wanted, and questioned Zille's use of the word "compound" to describe the homestead.
Shortly after the publication of Madonsela's report, the DA sent a bulk text message to Gauteng voters ahead of the 2014 general election which reads: "The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change." The ANC submitted an urgent application to the South Gauteng High Court to stop distribution of the text message on the grounds that it violated the Electoral Act. On 4 April 2014, the court ruled that the wording of the message was fair comment and dismissed the ANC's application with costs. The ANC was granted leave to appeal the decision. On 6 May 2014, the Electoral Court ruled that the DA must retract the text message, finding that it wrongly targeted Zuma personally instead of the systematic failures highlighted in Madonsela's report. The court case was ultimately won by the DA when the Constitutional Court set aside the Electoral Court ruling on 19 January 2015.
On 19 December 2013, public works minister Thulas Nxesi presented a report of an inter-ministerial task team which justified the public expenditure and cleared Zuma. On 28 April 2014, a parliamentary ad hoc committee set up to consider Zuma's response to Madonsela's report was referred to the next Parliament to be formed after the 2014 general election, citing insufficient time available before the 7 May election date. As of 11 August 2014, a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) mandated to investigate the matter by Zuma in December 2013 is suing the architect for R155.3 million in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court. On 12 September 2014, the SIU's report on their investigation was tabled in Parliament. The SIU said that the Zuma family was enriched by the upgrades and blamed overspending on the architect and public works officials, who have alleged interference by Zuma and others who have all denied these allegations. The SIU also found that security measures were still inadequate despite the overspending.
A second parliamentary ad hoc committee, established in August 2014, would consider the report of the inter-ministerial task team published in December 2013, the Public Protectors' final report published in March 2014 and the SIU's report published in September 2014, as well as Zuma's responses to them. The second ad hoc committee challenged the findings of the Public Protector and referred the matter to security experts including the police minister in November 2014.
On 28 May 2015, police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, who was appointed by Zuma on 25 May 2014, released his report on Nkandla which found that the swimming pool, cattle kraal, chicken run, visitor's centre and amphitheatre were needed security features and concluded that Zuma does not owe the South African taxpayers anything. On 18 August 2015, the National Assembly adopted the report of a third parliamentary ad hoc committee which accepted the findings of Nxesi and Nhleko and cleared Zuma. Opposition parties Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance subsequently approached the Constitutional Court to enforce the Public Protector's findings.
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