Thursday, July 4, 2013

Report on Nkandla ‘will not be leaked’

THE wrangle around the Department of Public Works task team report on the R200m upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla property has taken another turn, with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela promising that the report will not be leaked from her office.

This follows Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi handing over the report to her.

There has also been increased confusion over which minister classified the report top secret and under which law. Mr Nxesi has said State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele classified the report, but he has denied this.

Yesterday, Ms Madonsela confirmed being in possession of the report. She gave the assurance that it would not be leaked from her office and that it would be handled in such a way as not to compromise the security of the president. Ms Madonsela reportedly said that elements of the report were helping her investigation into the spending of taxpayers’ money on Nkandla.

Earlier this week, Mr Cwele moved to distance himself from the classification of the report as top secret.

"The ministry has noted with concern various media reports relating to the classification of the Inkandla upgrade task team report and the role of the minister of state security. The report in question emanates from the work done by a JCPS (Justice, Crime Prevention and Security) task team appointed by the minister of public works.… We wish to indicate that it is factually incorrect that the Minister of State Security, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, has ‘classified the report top secret’ or issued an instruction to this effect, as claimed in some media reports.

"In terms of the prevailing classification regime, the author of the report is the one who classifies it. As the report is authored by the task team and owned by the commissioning minister of public works, the minister of state security cannot classify or declassify it or issue instructions to this effect."

Mr Nxesi had said in his letter to National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu that he was sending the report to Parliament on behalf of the state security minister and asking for it to be dealt with behind closed doors in the joint standing committee on intelligence.

Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko welcomed the fact that the report had been made available to Ms Madonsela.

"The DA has been calling for this report to be handed over to the public protector, the auditor-general and to be presented to the appropriate open public works portfolio committee in Parliament. We have maintained that the ‘classification’ of this report is invalid because neither the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS) Cabinet policy nor the Protection of Information Act of 1982, which have been used, allow for classification of the report in law.

"The fact that the Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, has now handed this report to the public protector further proves that the report was never classified. Had it been, Adv Thuli Madonsela would have needed security clearance to even look at the report."

She said she would write to Mr Nxesi to determine whether Ms Madonsela had an appropriate security clearance and if so how it had been gained.

"I will also write to the public protector to seek clarity on whether her report will be made public. It will prove futile if the public protector is unable to make her report public because of the limitations provided under an invalid classification.

"We cannot allow for this abuse of public money to build President Zuma a palace in Nkandla to be swept under the carpet, nor can we can we allow for investigations by important public institutions to be withheld from the public. This report needs to be tabled in Parliament so that it may be scrutinised effectively," Ms Mazibuko said.

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