Wednesday, January 30, 2013

'Expose Nkandla big shots'

Labour federation Cosatu is demanding the release of the names of service providers who benefited from the R206-million refurbishment of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead.

The federation said it wanted the information to include the names of the directors and shareholders of Nkandla contractors so that it could determine whether politicians and civil servants had a relationship with the companies.

"We want to be assured that no government official, including political leadership, is conflicted and/or has benefited from what appears to be a massive inflation of prices," Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said yesterday.

Cosatu, an ANC alliance partner, slammed the government, saying it was insensitive in spend ing more than R200-million to upgrade Zuma' s private home.

Labelling the expenditure "grotesque", Craven said Cosatu was shocked that R71-million had been spent on upgrading security.

An additional R135-million was spent on "operational needs" such as a helipad and a clinic.

"For the government to spend such a grotesque amount of public money on any one person is shocking and grossly insensitive to the workers, the poor and the homeless," he said.

Nkandla should not be given priority over the needs of rural communities, he said.

Cosatu's response was made in the wake of the government's confirmation that a cumulative R206-million had been spent on Zuma's KwaZulu-Natal homestead.

On Sunday, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi admitted that there had been irregularities in supply-chain management involving "many" officials.

The DA has resorted to invoking the Protection of Access to Information Act in a bid to force the government to reveal the full report on the Nkandla upgradings.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the application was sent to the Department of Public Works yesterday.

"It is a slap in the face of accountability and transparency for the report, which makes a number of unsubstantiated assertions, to remain secret," Mazibuko said.

"President Zuma must do the right thing and intervene to ensure that his government tables the report in parliament for scrutiny and debate."

The Protection of Access to Information Act gives the department 30 days in which to release the report or give detailed reasons for not doing so.

Nxesi has cited "security" as his reason for not releasing the report in full.

The ANC said Mazibuko was misguided in calling for a parliamentary debate on the report.

"It is reasonable and appropriate for a report of such a confidential nature to be forwarded to the law enforcement agencies to investigate any possible acts of criminality rather than be made the subject of a public political spectacle. No country can lay bare the sensitive security details of its head of state or the security operations of the state for public debate and scrutiny,"ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said yesterday.

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