CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma has clearly misled Parliament and the people of South Africa to evade accountably in the matter of the paxpayer-funded upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.
“Today’s [Sunday] Sunday Times exposé confirms what South Africans have long held, that Jacob Zuma personally benefited from the upgrades which took place at his R247 million private Nkandla residence.
“This contradicts what Zuma previously articulated in Parliament where he stated that he and his family had not benefited materially from the upgrades,” Maimane said.
Zuma previously told Parliament that: “My residence in Nkandla was paid for by the Zuma family. All the buildings and every room we use in that residence was built by ourselves as a family and not by government. I have never asked government to build a home for me, and it has not done so.”
Zuma also said that: “What the security has done for security features does not include the houses you have counted. They are neither in my residence nor my home.”
Maimane said the information release by the Sunday Times – which was not made available to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela during her investigation into Nkandla – showed that taxpayers’ money was spent on Zuma’s private residences in Nkandla, including items such as air conditioning, aluminum windows, paved walkways, and even six door mats which each cost R1500.
“It is unacceptable that Zuma can be allowed to trample on the institution of Parliament by lying to it and by repeatedly evading accountability to the people of South Africa by Parliament,” he said.
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete had a duty to uphold and protect the integrity of the institution of Parliament.
“As such, I have written to the Speaker today [Sunday] to request that she write to Zuma on behalf of Parliament to ask him to explain his previous verbal and written correspondence to the House. The Speaker must stand up for Parliament and to the president by demanding that this explanation is provided without delay.
“Zuma clearly mislead Parliament and the people of South Africa in order to evade accountability when he told Parliament that his family had not benefited from the security upgrades,” Maimane said.
The DA had long contended that Zuma was fully aware of the upgrades at his private residence and had full knowledge of the escalating costs.
“Everything Zuma touches turns into a corrupt act, whether it is the upgrades at his private residence or the appointment of Cabinet ministers, all at the expense of the people of South Africa.”
This information added to the growing body of evidence which pointed to a man who was not fit to serve as president, and “I again call on the ANC to recall Zuma”.
“South Africa cannot be led by a man who blatantly disregards the rule of law and the Constitution in order to enrich himself and a cabal of people close to him,” Maimane said.
The Sunday Times reported that new details had emerged of how state funds were used to buy fittings, fixtures, and building materials for three houses at Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla – despite his denial that public money was used.
A dossier compiled by former public works department deputy director general Rachard Samuel contained invoices showing that the state paid for thatching, meranti and aluminium doors and window frames, tiles, paint, plastering, airconditioning, and unexplained “extras”.
Samuel’s dossier revealed that officials involved in the project repeatedly cautioned their political heads that Zuma would have to pay a portion of the costs.
Samuel was one of the officials said to have been made to take the fall for the government’s overspending on Nkandla. He claims he was forced out on trumped-up charges and plans to use the dossier in his legal battle for a payout. Last month he won a case in the Labour Court, which ruled that he and the department should enter renewed arbitration, the Sunday Times reported.