Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zuma denies getting letter detailing Nkandla upgrade

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma on Wednesday denied receiving a letter from then public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde in 2010 detailing the nature of the R206m security upgrade to his private residence in Nkandla.

In the recent past, the incumbent Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi generated disbelief by declaring that Mr Zuma knew nothing about the scale of the building in and around his home.

Mr Nxesi said that a report by a public works task team, which identified irregularities in the security upgrade, would be tabled in Parliament. The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament is planning for the report to be discussed behind closed doors.

Mr Zuma used the report and its discussion in Parliament to stonewall detailed questions on the upgrade, saying "wait for the report".

Replying to a question on the floor of the National Assembly from the Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, Mr Zuma again insisted that the renovations to his private home were paid for by the Zuma family.

He conceded that he had been informed that there would be a security upgrade. "Naturally, I was informed that improvements needed to be made at the family residence to enhance the security of the Head of State.

"The nature and form of the improvements was decided upon by the relevant officials through their departments. As already indicated such information would not include details on the specifics of what would be done, by whom and at what cost."

In a follow-up question, Ms Mazibuko waved a letter at Mr Zuma saying that it was from Ms Mahlangu-Nkabinde to the president and demanded: "Did the president receive this letter?"

Mr Zuma responded "I never received any letter" adding that he should not discuss the details of the Nkandla upgrade because that would be pre-empting both the parliamentary discussion of the report and the investigation of the Nkandla matter by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Congress of the People MP Papi Kganare again expressed disbelief asking Mr Zuma if the construction of the football field, the tuckshop, the clinic and the lifts were legitimate security considerations.

"The tuckshop was in the heart of the homestead which people were entering in order to buy. Security said that this was a security risk and had it moved to the gate," Mr Zuma said.

He urged Mr Kganare and DA MP Anchen Dreyer to wait for the discussion of the public works report.

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