Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LETTER: Bare facts on Nkandla

Cape Town - The release of the results of the investigation by the task team set up to probe the alleged spending of public money on Nkandla, just hours before the Bafana Bafana match, was curiously timed.

Nonetheless, it was in keeping with the government’s promise that a swift investigation would be conducted and the result announced to the public.

While in the mind of South Africans the result of the investigation is bound to compete for attention with the analysis of the match and the national team’s advancement in the tournament, South Africans can at least put the issue behind them.

They have been told that no public money was spent on the president’s personal homestead. The country can now move on to celebrate Bafana Bafana’s advancement in the tournament — if only it were that easy.

Incidentally, all accounts of the news conference at which the result of the investigation was announced somehow remind me of an exchange long ago.

The story dates back to 1949. Marilyn Monroe was alleged to have posed nude for a calendar — in those days, care was taken in the presentation of such photographs to leave the really interesting bit to one’s imagination.

A young and curious reporter who had seen and wondered about the photograph, to no end, approached Ms Monroe to ask her if indeed she did not have anything on when the photograph was taken. She retorted that she had "the radio on".

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi reported that only R206m was spent on security upgrades and operational requirements but no public money was spent on the upgrading of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence. He also reported that there were supply chain irregularities in the procurement processes.

This makes one wonder that if irregularities can creep into such an ostensibly high-security prestige project — what happens at the level of projects that are not so classified?

People have not stopped wondering about the truth in the Marilyn Monroe story. We sure have not heard the last of this prestige project.

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