Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Zuma’s backers should help the poor: IFP

Durban - President Jacob Zuma's backers should rather donate money to the needy than attempt to bail him out, the IFP said on Monday.

“President Zuma is not poor, he can afford to pay his debt,” Inkatha Freedom Party secretary general Sibongile Nkomo said in a statement.

“With his monthly salary, he can afford to pay all his debt without any bail-out.”

She said Zuma could not accept an offer to pay back the money spent on his Nkandla homestead, as this would mean he acknowledged that it constituted unlawful spending of public funds.

The Sunday Times reported that KwaZulu-Natal tycoon Philani Mavundla had offered to raise funds and settle Zuma's Nkandla “debt”.

Nkomo said Zuma's so-called backers would be wasting their money.

“There are many people in our country who are in desperate need of food and shelter, therefore these so-called good Samaritans should divert their goodwill to help those in need, as they are the ones who deserve assistance.”

In March, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma had derived undue benefit from the upgrades and recommended that he pay back a portion of the money.

Zuma declined to do so, and instead waited for the outcome of another investigation by the Special Investigating Unit.

The SIU blamed Zuma's architect Minenhle Makhanya for inflating the costs of the Nkandla project, and filed a civil claim against him for R155m in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on August 11.

Makhanya has hired high-profile lawyers to contest the case.

- Sapa

Monday, October 20, 2014

Zuma's Nkandla comparison raises alarms - de Klerk Foundation

The foundation says the comments regarding Zuma's views on the distinction between proper state expenditure and self-enrichment are disturbing.

President Jacob Zuma’s reported comparison between the construction of George airport and money spent on his Nkandla home raises “disturbing questions”, the FW De Klerk Foundation said on Monday.

“If he is correctly reported, the president’s comments raise disturbing questions regarding his views on the distinction between proper state expenditure on bona fide projects and expenditure that will result in his own enormous and unjustifiable enrichment,” executive director Dave Steward said in a statement.

The state had a duty to provide official accommodation and transportation for a president while in office and had a duty to provide security to retired presidents. 

“However, something must be seriously wrong if the provision of such security leads to state expenditure that vastly exceeds the value of the property that is being protected as well as expenditure on the security of other former presidents,” he said. Beeld reported on Monday that Zuma compared the construction of airport in George for apartheid-era head of state PW Botha, and his own home in Nkandla.

‘Is it unfair?’
Answering a question during a Sunday lunch to mark media freedom day, he said he lived in a state house without paying rent and travelled on state planes without paying for it. “Is this an unfair advantage?” he asked. When it was pointed out that his Nkandla dwelling was a personal home, not state property, Zuma said it was the state’s duty to protect the president and deputy president. 

Zuma said the airport in George was not built for economic reasons. “It is because Botha lived there [at Wilderness].” He wanted to know why there was so much criticism over Nkandla saying: “Is Nkandla not meant to produce a president?” The government spent R246-million on upgrades to Zuma’s Nkandla home. 

The public protector recommended that he repay that part of the money not spent on security. Meanwhile, disciplinary hearings for government officials who signed off on aspects of the project were underway. 

Parliament was disrupted by a call by the Economic Freedom Fighters that Zuma “pay back the money”, and Minenhle Makhanya, the architect who worked on the project, is challenging his alleged liability for overspending in court. Steward said any state action, which resulted in the enrichment of a political office bearer was fundamentally wrong and unacceptable. 

He said Botha was not given ownership of George Airport and derived no personal benefit from it. It was not built just for Botha’s personal travel needs. 

“What emerges from President Zuma’s remarks is his growing sensitivity to media criticism over Nkandla; his, and the ANC’s failure to accept that the expenditure of R246-million on his private residence is indefensible; and the lack of credibility of the findings of organisations like the SIU that are ultimately under the president’s control,” Steward said. – Sapa

SHACK FIRE DISPLACES 22 IN KRAAIFONTEIN

CAPE TOWN – Cape Town disaster management officials have warned the rise in temperatures may see more fires breaking out in the province.

22 people were displaced following a blaze in Kraaifontein last night.

Three school children were among those affected.

Distaster Risk Management’s Wilfred Solomons-Johannes says units are at the scene to assess the damage.

“The fire occurred at the Bluekombos informal settlement. 10 shacks were destroyed overnight. Disaster management teams were deployed this morning.”

A week ago a fire broke out in the Lusaka informal settlement leaving over 100 people homeless while shack fires around the province continue to claim lives.

- EWN

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tycoon offers to settle Nkandla bill

Duban - KwaZulu-Natal tycoon Philani Mavundla has offered to raise funds and settle President Jacob Zuma's debt over the security upgrades at his private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, the Sunday Times reported.

Mavundla, a former ANC mayor of Greytown, admitted that there have been behind-the-scene discussions among Zuma's backers for the president's debt.

“We have been talking about this. There has been a forum talking about this issue.”

“We've been asking questions about this issue and convincing one another that we need to put something together,” Mavundla was quoted as saying.

The group would raise money in the same way they did with the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust set up in 2005 to raise money for Zuma's defence against his fraud and corruption charges at the time. Mavundla was involved with the trust, the newspaper reported.

Mavundla, 46, slaughtered 20 cattle in 2008 to celebrate Zuma's rise to the ANC presidency after defeating former president Thabo Mbeki in Polokwane.

He lives with his three wives and their 18 children, his siblings and mother-in-law in a 28-bedroom mansion near Greytown, according to the report.

Mavundla owns a construction company, PG Mavundla Engineering. His property portfolio included five commercial farms, a luxury hotel and lodge and several other businesses, the newspaper reported.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela ordered that Zuma reimburse the state a portion of the R246 million spent on his private homestead.

- Sapa

Lindiwe Sisulu to establish housing ommbudsman

A housing ombudsman would be established to monitor policies and address issues in the housing sector, the department of human settlements said on Sunday.

The announcement was made by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu during the National Settlement Indaba held at the Sandton Convention Centre before the weekend.

“We have agreed that the department of human settlements will establish the ombudsman office for the housing sector by November 14, 2014 to monitor the implementation of all policies and the resolution of this indaba,” Sisulu said.

She would work with Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the SA Local Government Association to resolve several issues which were raised during the indaba.

During the indaba. Sisulu and other stakeholders committed to delivering 1.5 million housing opportunities by 2019.

Over R250 billion would be directed to this cause.

Other issues which were discussed included eradicating the backlog of title deeds for pre and post-1994 housing stock, reviewing the eviction laws, and the urgent need to make serviced sites to employees who did not qualify for government subsidies.

The indaba was attended by ministers, local government delegates, mining companies, property owners and developers, engineers and employers.
It resolved that government must prioritise pensioners, orphans and military veterans in provision of housing, but also intensify the implementation of other creative programmes to support young people in urban areas.

- Sapa

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nkandla shows need to protect whistle-blowers

WHISTLE-blowers in the public service who refuse to comply with illegal instructions from politicians or superiors should be better protected, says Department of Public Works director-general Mziwonke Dlabantu.

Although public servants have the right, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, to request instructions in writing and then to lodge these with the auditor-general and the Treasury, this is seldom done, as they fear retribution.

Had the 13 public servants facing charges in connection with the renovations of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla followed this procedure, they would have been protected, says Mr Dlabantu.

Instead, they are facing charges for carrying out instructions from their superiors. None of them has been found to have benefited materially in any way.

Their motivation is unknown and "could have been to please their superiors" or a case of "being used to bending the rules", says Mr Dlabantu.

"If a minister gives you an illegal instruction, you have a right to request that it be issued in writing. Generally people are scared to do that. I have raised it in discussions with the National Treasury that protection of whistle-blowers should be strengthened."

Some of the public works officials who have been charged told City Press last month they had been ordered to destroy confidential documentation and not keep notes of meetings on the R246m Nkandla project. Mr Dlabantu said "there was a monumental misunderstanding" of how to handle confidential and classified documents. "If something is classified it doesn’t mean a document should not exist. It means it should be handled correctly," he says.

The officials told City Press they planned to expose instructions from their superiors to bypass tender procedures and take shortcuts from 2009 when construction began.

The Nkandla project was symptomatic of the chaos that prevailed in the department prior to 2012, when the turnaround strategy was put in place.

This included "a very basic collapse of the systems of the department itself", says Mr Dlabantu, who was appointed to his position a year ago.

- BDLive

Human Settlements Minister lives in the future and forgets her involvement in the past - not learning from history

Housing: Why did Germany succeed where we've failed? - Lindiwe Sisulu

Minister notes that that country rebuilt the 6m houses destroyed in WWII in less than a decade

ADDRESS BY L N SISULU, MP, MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS, AT THE HUMAN SETTLEMENTS INDABA

16 OCTOBER 2014, SANDTON CONVENTION CENTRE

We have been here before with some of you in 2005. Those of us in government look at that period as the dawn of new thinking around housing development, at a time when we examined our own policies, their relevance and quickly caught on to world trends and adopted the groundbreaking approach of Integrated Human Settlements. What did come as a complete surprise to us at that Summit of 2005, was the level of support we received from the sectors we have here assembled today.

It went way beyond the economic rationale we had taken advantage of. We, as government, had set ourselves an ambitious target and allowed ourselves to dream that the best was possible for us. Essentially, we knew that there was no way we could make it alone. And so we called a summit such as this one, in which we could bind ourselves, the private sector and our partners to test the new policy and to achieve the goal we had set ourselves. It was a golden age of hope of new ways and enhanced delivery support.

We had realised then that unless we had a total mobilisation of the Banking Sector, the Private Sector, the NGOs and other stakeholders, we would not achieve what we had set ourselves to achieve. We successfully mobilised the stakeholders that helped us deliver 6 successful mega projects that helped us refine our policies and helped us exceed our own goals.

We used our collective muscle to test our new approach and our successes will speak for themselves later in our deliberations. I was excessively proud of our joint efforts. I had the opportunity at the recent budget vote debate to express my sincerest appreciation to the MECs who trod this path with me and now I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who cooperated with us to achieve what will always be a cameo in the history of human settlements in this country. For every major project we undertook there was a bank ready to provide support, not only financial support, but the banks, in fact, geared themselves to establish the necessary structures to have joint implementation capacity. Either out of naivety or carried away by our own enthusiasm, we managed to get the heads of all the banks in one room. Too late we realised we might have fallen foul of the Treasury rules in this collaboration - too late: the deed was done! Our profound appreciation to the Banking Sector. And a special appreciation to Cas Coovadia and the Banking Association of South Africa, whose belief in us allowed them to exceed the R42bn they had originally earmarked for us. May they continue to believe in us.

To the developers who had faith in us and our vision, we appreciate your support for our work. When it was not profitable to work in the human settlements environment we saw an exodus of the main construction companies - they mostly found their way to Dubai. But those who stayed with us can rightly be proud that together we created more than 1.2 million housing units in five years. Well beyond our target. Translating into 240 000 units a year, 20 000 units a month and 660 units a day. The challenge now is to out-do that and do it without having the many glitches we experienced then.

The Slum Dwellers International exposed us to new thinking, taught us that people are prouder of their achievements when they feel they have contributed to providing shelter for their families. They made us proud, so proud that they were nominees of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, because we bask in that glory too.

UN Habitat gave us the platform and used us to lobby for the prioritisation of human settlement on the world agenda. UN Habitat, you could not have chosen more committed partners for this. We are grateful for the exposure and the ability to stand here and claim we helped shape Human Settlements Policies for developing countries. And our woman contractors, what can I say? I just wish they were more organized because they are simply the best, better than anyone. Women of South Africa in the construction industry, I urge you to organise yourselves and take full advantage of the quota that has been allocated to you. You have nothing to lose but the men who use you to front for them.

The Chamber of Mines, it is with extreme regret that we were not able to accomplish what we had hoped we could do, for we were all certain in 2005 that we could change the lives of our workers on the mines. We were determined we would do it before tragedy struck. Perhaps we should have known even then that we needed the workers themselves to be part of the Social Contract. We learn and grow every day in government. Now we know. But we know now and we have invited them too this time, so that we can work with them to better their living conditions.

The Black Conveyances, we will make better use of this opportunity. Property is not an asset without a title deed and most of our beneficiaries have not realised the full potential of what we have given them, because its value is so limited to shelter. We are behind in the issuing of title deeds, for various reasons, while our people are experiencing economic difficulty. Together we need to recommit to measurable outputs so that we revive the dead assets in the property we have given them, revitalise the secondary market and unleash the economic potential of our townships.

We are here today to recommit ourselves and mobilise even greater participation. Not because it makes business sense to do so, but because we are driven by our patriotic responsibility and because we are all aware that the restoration of the dignity of our people begins with shelter. And that which defines us as a human species is our social interaction and therefore need for communities. Our people are in appalling conditions as we sit in air-conditioned summits. In just this year, KwaZulu-Natal has had eight protests over housing.

To those of you who are new to this summit, you are most welcome. We meet here to ask you to come along with us and help us meet the challenge of housing, the challenge of reversing the deeply entrenched racial spatial patterns of apartheid. We are battling as South Africa continues to rank number one in the world as the country with the sharpest inequalities. These manifest themselves along racial lines, along residential patterns. We are further challenged by a number of impediments of our own making. An unresponsive slow bureaucracy, the increasing number of people in our backlog against the huge drop in delivery of more than 1.5 million people over the last five years.

We have resolved that to regain our delivery pace our target for this next five years is 1.5 million housing units, fifty catalytic projects, 200 000 Housing units in the mining towns over the next three years. We intend to continue to appeal to all employers to join us in our work. The living conditions of their employees are as much their responsibility as it is ours to assist. We have created a policy for a Government Employees Housing Scheme, which will give guarantees to the bank, so that they are not over exposed. They will, with the concurrence of labour be assured that the mortgage deductions can come directly from the pay role. We do this as government because we want to show that it is possible to do it and urge all employers to consider the same.

With all that we have been through as a country, where a house was used as part of a coercive system to subjugate the masse of our people, we can use that same instrument to provide settled communities, responsive to their obligations as citizens, give them a stake in the economy and I can assure you we will change lives, create a better country and a responsible citizenry. Together we can improve the economy of the country, create more jobs and thrive as we should, given the amount of goodwill we as a people are gifted with.

Our emphasis for the next five years is mega projects, while allowing for pockets of site and service and People's Housing Projects. Mega Projects have the advantage of building on scale and generating jobs and subsidiary industries. They allow all three spheres of government to learn to work together and hopefully the "foot dragging" of municipal processes can be brought under central control of all three spheres working together. It cuts down on time spent. Together we can plan and ensure proper integration and spatial coherence.

National Government will provide a centralised database for beneficiaries.

We would like all of you here to join us on this monumental chance to make a significant impact. It is rare that any of us are given a second chance. We have been given that second chance and we intend to ensure its impact.

For our part as government, this is what we are committing to in this partnership:

1. We commit to the struggling contractor, we will help you access funding. We will be restructuring our Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to make them more responsive and to help them access the necessary finance so that you may be assisted.

2. We will help to the extent possible to access land for low income housing and ensure you get all the help you can get through our bureaucratic maze, with the assistance of the Housing Development Agency, who will work with you through the Provinces and municipalities.

3. We will establish a dedicated unit in the department, headed by a DDG, to ensure that you are paid on time. We have seen many frustrated contractors going under because of the burden of delay in payment. That should be behind us now.

4. Over and above that, we will establish an office of an ombudsman so that you have easy recourse to redress as and when you should require that.

5. We will create fora where you can participate together with other stakeholders like Water and Sanitation, Eskom, the roads agencies, the education and sport and recreation sectors, the Estate Agency Affairs Board, the municipalities and the communities so that we do not cause you the financial risks you have had to take where you spend years before the project is allocated. These fora will be convened by the MECs of the Provinces and we expect no less than four a year.

6. Human Settlements has a potential as a great job creator. We intend to harness the energy of our unemployed youth. We would like to test the Cuban model of a Youth Brigade for every project so that we can deal with unemployment while we skill the youth.

7. We have a Master Spatial Plan which will help you understand the direction we are going, where our future projects will be. This will be used to ensure that by the time we have the approved projects, the necessary bulk infrastructure, electricity, etc has been put in place.

From all of you we ask, seek better and more cost effective ways of building. Our exhibitors out there are here to show you what is possible. New methods are available and once approved, try them. From you we want an increase in the number of affordable rental stock. This is one of our most serious challenges. Not every homeless person qualifies for a free house and no stock is available for the rental bracket.

From you we want solidly built houses. From the Banking sector we need a recommitment to create access to mortgage funding. The Black Conveyancers must help our municipalities to access title deeds at shortest time possible so that in future it should be possible to give a title deed as we give the house. Our Military Veterans, come help us build houses for people who have done so much for us. SDI, we have to upscale our numbers. The more you succeed the better are our chances of stopping an unhealthy decency syndrome that has set in

It took Germany less than ten years to rebuild the houses that were destroyed in the 2nd World War. By the end they had built 6 million houses. How did they do it? They prioritised housing in their reconstruction. They received a dedicated fund for this and created a special purpose vehicle and by the early 1950s they had completed this task. We have had twenty years. We have prioritized housing. We have special purpose vehicles. We have dedicated funding. But we have a backlog that is almost as large as the number of units built so far. We need to do something drastically different. We are open to ideas that would make this possible.

The revised growth down from the last assessment means that we have to brace ourselves for even more stringent cost cutting measures from Treasury. We can do our bit in getting out of this economic gloom. We jointly have the capacity to grow jobs and skills.

We, each if us here, have a significant role to play. Join this Human Settlements family and we can beat our own target, create new cities that reflect our new identity, break down racial barriers. And give expression to our freedom. Let's make an indelible mark in our history because we have the opportunity to do so.

I thank you.

Issued by the Ministry of Human Settlements, October 16 2016

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sisulu seeks ways to leverage funds

Lindiwe Sisulu, the Minister of Human Settlements, aims to leverage the financial reserves of the National Home Builders Registration Council and Estate Agency Affairs Board to increase the delivery of affordable housing.

Sisulu also wants to get the Public Investment Corporation, the manager of the Government Employees Pension Fund, to invest in the housing market segment.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the National Human Settlements Indaba, which aims to build partnerships for the accelerated delivery of human settlements through a social contract with partners.

Sisulu said the government had committed R1 billion towards the target of delivering 1.5 million housing opportunities by 2019, which would drive economic development.

“The 1.5 million houses we want to provide is government’s commitment. We can treble that with the support of society,” she said.

Sisulu said the emphasis in the next five years was on megaprojects, while also allowing for pockets of site-and-service and people’s housing projects. Megaprojects, which delivered at least 10 000 housing units, had the advantage of building on scale and generating jobs and subsidiary industries.

Sisulu said human settlements had potential as a great job creator and they intended to harness the energy of the unemployed youth.

“We would like to test the Cuban model of a youth brigade for every project, so that we can deal with unemployment while we skill the youth, she said.

“With all that we have been through as a country, where a house was used as part of a coercive system to subjugate the masses of our people, we can use that same instrument to provide settled communities, responsible to their obligations as citizens and give them a stake in the economy.

“Together we can improve the economy of the country, create more jobs and thrive.”

The indaba follows the social contract entered into in 2005 between what was then the Department of Housing and many civil society partners that resulted in the delivery of 1.2 million housing units in the following five years.

Various organisations made commitments and pledges yesterday towards the social contract. The finalisation and signing of the second social contract is scheduled to take place today.

Pierre Venter, the head of human settlements at the Banking Association of SA, said the banking sector was committed to the social contract if it included all stakeholders.

He said since signing the initial social contract in 2005, the commercial banks in South Africa had lent more than R101bn to more than 2.2 million families to enable them to improve their housing conditions.

He said a key concern of the sector when it signed the record of understanding in 2005 was that the affordable housing market was not a normalised market segment.

“This segment is today commercially viable and sustainable despite the economic recession… and it compares favourably with other segments.

“We now have commercial banks actively competing for market share in this segment because it’s deemed to be very good business and that’s our future middle class,” he said.

A Chambers of Mines representative said the chamber and its member companies were committed to working in partnerships with all stakeholders in areas that would improve the socioeconomic and living conditions of its people.

Asked by Sisulu if the chamber would double the R1bn commitment made by the government, the representative said the funding by its members individually through their social and labour plans collectively exceeded R2bn.

- Business Day

Lindiwe Sisulu says nothing about the N2 Gateway national flagship which was her brain child - which although had Bank buy in has empty units sitting bare for years...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seven ways you know you're an African, according to Jacob Zuma

From knowing corruption is a "Western paradigm" to abhorring dogs and gay people: welcome to Jacob Zuma's idea of what it means to be an African.

Thabo Mbeki may have written the definitive speech on being an African, but his successor Jacob Zuma is determined to rewrite the script. 

Zuma apparently believes that the dubious financial relationship he enjoyed with his previous adviser Schabir Shaik, involving illicit loans to Zuma, was not corrupt – if you thought about it as an African. 

“Western paradigm brands this criminal,” read his written submission to the National Prosecuting Authority in 2009 to have charges against him dropped, according to a City Press report published on Sunday. 

Our president has a bad rep. The rest of us have been wrangling with the concept of what it means to be an African when this whole time Zuma has had it down pat. He didn’t need to make an epic speech on the matter like Mbeki did. 

Instead, he’s been dropping hints throughout his two terms in power so far. You’re only truly African if:

1) You’re not too clever 
Clever blacks are a scourge upon the continent, according to Zuma’s speech to the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament in November 2012. “Even some Africans, who become too clever, take a position, they become the most eloquent in criticizing themselves about their own traditions and everything.” 

2) You’ll never need a lawyer
His off the cuff remarks on the above occasion included a rant about prisons, lawyers, and other white man ways, over “the African way”. What’s that about the Constitution? Yeah, I’m not sure either. 

3) You have crappy roads 
We may not need lawyers or prisons in Africa but we DO need e-tolls. Because otherwise we’ll be too African. Apparently one needs just the right amount of African-ness in Zuma’s books. “We can’t think like Africans in Africa. It’s not some national road in Malawi,” he told an audience at the University of the Witwatersrand in October 2013 when questioned about the logic of the deeply unpopular e-tolling system. 

4) You know that a little corruption between friends is totally fine
Can there be anything more insulting than conflating the West with accountability and clean governance? In labelling the idea of corruption a “Western paradigm”, Zuma’s lawyers have said that Zuma as an African subscribes to a different culture where corrupt dealings, such as the one that existed between him and Shaik, are ok. Because Africans have a lower standard when it comes to ethics? 

5) If you see a gay person, you would knock them down
Zuma may have apologised for this one, but it’s hard to forget the time he told people in September 2006 that he would knock down an ungqingili, or homosexual in Zulu. “Same sex marriage is a disgrace to the nation and to God. When I was growing up, ungqingili could not stand in front of me, I would knock him out.” 

6) You know that when a woman wears a kanga, it’s business time
Some of Zuma’s more bizarre comments during his rape trial in 2006, in which he was later acquitted, included the idea that a woman wearing a wrap or a kanga, construed a sexual signal, and that “in Zulu culture, you don’t just leave a woman [when she is aroused] ... she will have you arrested and say you are a rapist”. 

7) You wouldn’t dream of having a dog
In a speech during the festive season in KwaZulu-Natal in 2012, Zuma made dog lovers everywhere doubt their African-ness when he described those who loved dogs more than people as “having a lack of humanity”. He also weighed in on the great hair debate (move over Chris Rock) and told black people to stop trying out other culture’s habits. “Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair you will never be white,” Zuma said. 

With a list like that, you’d be forgiven for doubting your African-ness – at least as it is currently defined by our president.

- M&G

Man who wants to pay Zuma's R246 million Nkandla bill still lives with mum

The man who has offered to pay back what President Jacob Zuma owes to the public for his role in the Nkandla debacle is a struggling wannabe filmmaker who lives with his parents.

Vumelani Mchunu, who gained instant fame when a letter he wrote to parliament's ad hoc committee was made public on Thursday, has no stable job and the office address he gave for his Public Members Unit Team (PMUT) does not exist.

The 33-year-old was featured on radio shows and quoted by various newspapers on Thursday and Friday after he wrote to parliament saying the PMUT, which he purports to chair, "will pay that money back on behalf of the president".

But it has now emerged that not only is the PMUT's address - which is given as 250 Avoca Hills in Durban - fictitious, it is also an "unregistered ... non-profit organisation".

Mchunu on Friday admitted that his organisation was unregistered and told the Sunday Times that he did not personally know Zuma.

He said he only had a chance meeting with the president in 2008 when he worked as a production assistant in a documentary about KwaMashu township, outside Durban.

Zuma had been interviewed for the documentary.

The Sunday Times tracked Mchunu down to KwaMashu where his neighbours laughed when told of his offer to pay the millions "owed" by Zuma while his contemporaries in film-making dismissed him as an "attention seeker".

His father's house on Nhlangakazi Road, in D-Section, is a modestly renovated township house - with a single garage still under construction - which showed no visible signs of a well-to-do family.

There was no one at home.

Said a neighbour: "He lives here. That's his father's house, but he also spends time in H-Section ... He's married now."

When he registered his seemingly dormant company, VumVum Media, in 2011, Mchunu gave the Nhlangakazi Road address as his residential address.

Even Edmund Mhlongo, the founder of the KwaMashu Community Advancement Projects (K-Cap) - where Mchunu learnt video production in 2004 - had a good laugh when he heard about the story.

"He got married last year or thereabouts ... I don't know him as a businessman. I know him as a struggling young man who works for production companies and gets jobs here and there ... maybe his wife is a millionaire," said Mhlongo.

It all started with two letters which were sent to the parliamentary committee set up to consider the four reports on Nkandla - including that of public protector Thuli Madonsela, the government task team's report, the Special Investigating Unit report and Zuma's response to Madonsela.

The one letter was written by a group of Durban lawyers who asked for Madonsela to be removed from her position, alleging that her report had been "littered with flaws, inaccuracies, contradictions and inexcusable errors". The second letter came from Mchunu, pledging to put an end to the president's woes and "pay that money back on behalf of ... Zuma".

Zuma is under pressure from opposition parties to repay a portion of the R246-million in taxpayers money which was used to upgrade his Nkandla homestead.

Interview

Mchunu changed his mind after he had initially agreed to a face-to-face interview.

He reluctantly gave a telephonic interview - describing himself as "self-employed".

Asked about the Avoca Hills address he gave as belonging to his organisation, he said: "Don't worry about that, my brother, write what we are telling you".

Asked if he stayed at his parents' house, Mchunu said: "Why do you want to know where I stay ... this thing about where we stay and our companies is not relevant to what we are raising in our letter to parliament."

Mchunu said they were a "group" of self-employed and unemployed youth who had no current sponsors for the "youth empowerment projects" they purportedly ran.

More importantly, he admitted that they did not have the money to repay Zuma's debts.

"We fund all our projects from our own pockets. That's why we haven't registered our organisation ... but now we have realised that as we are in this process [of raising funds for Zuma] we should register the organisation so that it is transparent," he said.

Nkandla ad hoc committee chairman, the ANC's Cedric Frolick, said although they had disregarded Mchunu's letter - as their mandate was to deal with the four reports - he had to circulate it to MPs as it had been addressed to them.

- TimesLive

Nkandla builders worked for Zuma before

Durban - The order for two contractors to work on the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home came directly from the president because they had worked for him previously.

This emerges in the Special Investigation Unit’s report on Nkandla which is under scrutiny as 11 public servants face Department of Public Works disciplinary hearings in Durban.

On Tuesday, Durban-based public works project manager Trevor Watson was the latest to appear. He and his colleagues face charges of maladministration for deviating from department procurement procedures on the Nkandla project.

Watson’s charges relate to the appointment of Bonelene Construction for phase two, which included the construction of 20 buildings including police accommodation. He is accused of costing the state R6.1 million in irregular expenditure.

The second contractor is Moneymine, previously commissioned by Zuma as his private builder.

Bonelene is owned by Thandeka Nene and received R78m from the entire Nkandla project as it was appointed to work on two phases, which included emergency security work, landscaping and 26 new buildings.

The company’s first tender, in June 2010, was awarded on nominations as, according to the SIU, the “advertisement contained secret information and therefore open tender process could not be followed”.

The charges stem from recommendations by the SIU in a report that was given to Zuma in August.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) is representing the accused.

PSA labour relations officer Roshan Lil-Ruthan refused to discuss his defence strategy. However, it is thought he will argue that the civil servants were taking instructions from their supervisors.

The SIU report says there was pressure to fast-track the project and an instruction to appoint certain contractors by former deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu and Zuma.

The report says: “The minutes of the meeting of December 6, 2010, reflect that... Bogopane-Zulu said no new contractors should be allowed on site and pointed out that the current contractors (Bonelene Construction and Moneymine Investment) should be utilised... as the president did not want other contractors appointed for phase two than the ones that had been appointed for phase one.”

Zuma has previously denied knowledge of the details and amounts of work performed at Nkandla during the controversial security upgrades. In his parliamentary address last year, he said he was aware of the improvements done to enhance security.

“The nature and form of the improvements was decided upon by the relevant officials through their departments. As already indicated, such information (communicated to him) would not include details on the specifics of what would be done, by whom and at what cost,” he said.

Apparently, public works senior project manager Jean Rindel motivated for the nominated procurement strategy, saying it was the “preferred and fastest way to procure the works as it allowed the department to select the four nominated contractors (including Bonelene) to immediately provide the approved bidders with bid documents”.

Bonelene was paid R25m for phase one. On an alleged instruction from Bogopane-Zulu, the state went ahead and gave Bonelene a R40m tender for phase two, despite their construction grading not permitting this.

In 2012 Bonelene had grade 7 status, which limited it to tenders of up to R40m, when it was appointed for phase two. The Construction Industry Development Board regulations stipulate that a company can only take on work higher than its grading if the client is satisfied it can deliver.

However, the department tried to cancel the contract for non-performance in March 2012. According to the SIU report, the termination occurred a month later. Nene disputed the cancellation, saying that the failure to complete the work was because of delays in payment by the department.

Following a number of exchanges with department officials, including minister Thulas Nxesi, Bonelene was paid R7m, including an undisclosed retention amount.

Moneymine was then given the tender to complete Bonelene’s outstanding work, which included the military clinic and the crew pavilion, for R3.4m. As part of phase two, Bonelene was paid close to R1.2m for the concrete underdig for the outer perimeter fence, but the SIU said “such work was not executed”.

The payment was apparently authorised by Nkandla architect and project manager Minenhle Makhanya, who faces a R155m civil suit by the SIU, which says he overcharged and over-designed aspects of the project.

Despite raking in millions from the project, Bonelene faced liquidation in 2012 and received a R10m bail-out from the Independent Development Corporation, to which it already owed R19m.

- The Mercury

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Poo protest charges ‘trumped up’

Cape Town - Four men on trial for throwing human waste on the steps of the provincial legislature say the case against them is politically motivated and the provincial government and police set out to “trump up” charges against them.

On Tuesday, struggle songs and vuvuzelas resonated through the corridors of the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court as a large group of Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement members sang, danced and ululated for hours in the street.

In the dock of court 20, Andile Lili, Loyiso Nkohla, Thembela Mbanjwa and Songezo Mvandaba appeared on charges of contravening various sections of the National Environment Management: Waste Act. They have pleaded not guilty and are accused of emptying buckets of human faeces on the steps outside the provincial legislature in Wale Street on June 3 last year.

Police constable Mxolisi Mdodi, who took statements from them, was in the witness stand.

Duncan Korabie, for the men was cross-examining Mdodi and questioned the credibility of those statements.

He argued that Mdodi’s warning statements were defective, that certain sections of his clients’ affidavits had been deleted, some were incomplete and not commissioned properly or not signed by a commissioner of oaths.

Korabie argued that the police and members of the provincial legislature “bolstered a case against the accused”.

Mdodi denied bolstering any case, saying he took down the relevant facts.

“And then you used that information with the assistance of the provincial government to pursue a political prosecution,” Korabie said adding that that was why the investigation was done “quickly and in a “haphazard way”. Mdodi said he had followed correct procedures.

Korabie later put it to Mdodi that the reason they had all the problems with the statements was because he and the provincial government tried to “trump up” charges against his clients.

The trial continues.

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday Lili, Nkohla and 22 other Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement members declared victory on the steps of the Western Cape High Court where an application brought by the City of Cape Town preventing them staging illegal protests, was dismissed.

Earlier this year the city launched the high court application alleging that Lili and Nkohla, along with 22 others, had prominent roles in a series of protests last year.

The city said on Tuesday it would be studying the judgment “to determine whether further remedies should be pursued”.

“Ses’Khona should not be celebrating this short-lived victory,” it said.

“There are multiple cases pending against this organisation, which are all of a serious nature. We will continue to uphold the rule of law and to hold Ses’Khona accountable, and today’s verdict has no bearing on these separate matters.”

natasha.prince@inl.co.za

- Cape Argus

Friday, October 10, 2014

Zuma fans offer to foot Nkandla bill

Durban - President Jacob Zuma has the backing of two Durban groups that have come to his defence over Nkandla.

One group, consisting of business people, believes Zuma has been “humiliated” enough and has offered to foot the bill for the Nkandla upgrades, although its members say they don’t have much money and would have to raise the funds.

The others, who are lawyers, have lodged a complaint with Parliament against Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and her report on Nkandla.

Both have written letters to Parliament, which were read out and noted during Thursday’s ad hoc committee meeting considering the various Nkandla reports, as well as Zuma’s response.

The lawyers, calling themselves “concerned lawyers and educationists for equality before the law”, said Madonsela’s report, Secure in Comfort, was flawed and full of inconsistencies.

The second letter was brought by one Vumelani Mchunu, who chairs an organisation called the “public members’ unit team”.

“We as public members’ unit team feel this issue has humiliated the president of the Republic of South Africa. We as members of the public are now putting an end to this issue by saying (that) once the public protector finalises every report that is needed, including that amount of money that they are saying the president should pay back, we as public members’ unit team, we will then take it from there, and we as the public members’ unit team we will pay that money back on behalf of President Jacob Zuma,” wrote Mchunu.

He told The Mercury that his media business, Vum-Vum Media, did not have much money, although he was prepared to work tirelessly to raise money to pay for whatever Zuma owed for Nkandla.

“My business is not worth much, but personally I am worth gold because of my heart,” he said.

The 33-year-old said the team had 10 board members, but he declined to name them without their permission. He said he was the chairman.

Members of the team included business people, all in their thirties, and popular musicians. He said the team was started in 2000 as an NGO.

On Thursday night, the members had a meeting to plot the way forward.

“We have successfully recruited more than 30 other business people who are interested in helping the president. We do not have money, but we will fund raise.

“We are doing this because we felt that banging desks (referring to EFF leader Julius Malema) in Parliament is not right. We decided to help the president to deal with this,” he said.

He said neither Vum-Vum nor the public members’ unit team had benefited from government tenders.

All the members had their separate businesses, and their aim was to uplift young people.

“My business (Vum-Vum) has existed for the past four years. I work with big businesses, taking pictures and videos for their functions.”

He said the team had written to Parliament, the ANC, the ANC Youth League and Zuma about their offer to help the president.

“The president has not replied. For now, only Parliament has responded.”

The group of concerned lawyers, however, focused their letter on Madonsela and her “flawed” report.

The lawyers wrote that Madonsela’s conduct “may have contributed to South Africa’s downgrade by international ratings agencies”.

“She acted in a manner that constitutes gross misconduct and incapacity. Her conduct has inevitably brought the Office of the Public Protector into disrepute.”

The group requested that Parliament take “appropriate measures” against Madonsela.

Parliamentary committee chairman Cedric Frolick said they were still busy with deliberations and, although such letters could be sent to Parliament, “we put it on record that it is there.

“It cannot have any meaningful bearing on the work of this committee”, said Frolick.

He said the lawyers’ letter would have to be referred to the justice portfolio committee.

- Political Bureau and The Mercury

ANC 'not dealing wisely on Nkandla scandal'

A former ANC MP has called on President Jacob Zuma to pay back a portion of the R246 million spent on improvements to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, the Sowetan reported on Thursday.

"I would say to him, 'frankly, you did benefit. Come on, be a sport, pay something, we'll negotiate [the figure] more or less," Ben Turok was quoted as saying.

"You are on a standard rate of pay, you know you can't afford to pay R20m [an arbitrary figure Turok used] out of your salary, so give us a donation, let's call it quits, that's what I would say."

Turok was addressing reporters in Cape Town on Wednesday when he made the comments.

He said the ANC was not dealing wisely with the Nkandla scandal, and spoke hypothetically about possible solutions.

"I think there has been a lack of wisdom in the way the ANC had handled Nkandla," he said.

"The ruling party had become defensive as it lost some votes in the general elections. It's good to be defensive but you've got to be clever about it."

In March, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma had derived undue benefit from the upgrades and recommended that he pay back a portion of the money. Zuma declined to do so, and instead waited for the outcome of another investigation by the Special Investigating Unit.

The SIU blamed Zuma's architect Minenhle Makhanya for inflating the costs of the Nkandla project, and filed a civil claim against him for R155m in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 11 August. Makhanya has hired high profile lawyers to contest the case.

- SAPA