President Zuma off the hook on Nkandla controversy

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NKANDLA 2
President Zuma’s Nkandla residence which has been at the centre of controversy

 

South African President Jacob Zuma has been let off the hook, when it comes to repaying millions of rands to South African taxpayers for so-called questionable features built at his private residence, Nkandla.

This is according to the country’s Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko, who said the various investigations into the Nkandla Scandal had violated President Zuma’s rights and had compromised the security at his private residence – which he said was unprecendented anywhere in the world.

Nhleko said that the fire pool‚ amphitheatre‚ kraal‚ chicken run and visitor’s centre at the president’s Nkandla home are all security features and Jacob Zuma is not liable for any costs associated with them.

In summarising his 51-page investigation into the features‚ which Public Protector Thuli Madonsela questioned as being security related‚ Mr Nhleko said that not only were these security features‚ but investigations revealed that certain elements needed to be urgently upgraded and fixed.

He said the fire pool was “the most important security feature” while the animal enclosure‚ and chicken run were “critical security components”.

The visitor’s centre was “strategic as well as crucial” while the amphitheatre had a “clear security purpose”.

Mr Nhleko said that the president was “entitled to all the rights that every citizen enjoys” including the right to privacy.

The report contradicts the findings of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released lasy year which found the president had “unduly benefited” from the upgrades.

The opposition has been critical of Pesident Zuma over the reports about Nkandla.

The report of an inquiry conducted last year by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog found Mr Zuma had “unduly benefitted” from the renovations and recommended he pay back some of the money.

However Mr Zuma has maintained he would only pay money back if ordered to do so by Mr Nhleko, the police minister.

Mr Zuma in his response in August last year to a Special Investigations Unit report and the interministerial report on Nkandla said Mr Nhleko should decide “whether” the president was liable for any costs incurred.

Parliament tasked Mr Nhleko to probe whether or not Mr Zuma had to repay any money specifically for what Ms Madonsela found were not security features which had improperly benefited Mr Zuma and his family.

Mr Nhleko said that the president was “entitled to all the rights that every citizen enjoys” including the right to privacy.

“While the pursuit of a just and corruption-free society is noble‚ this pursuit should be conducted in an objective and fair manner so that it’s very intent is not undermined‚” he said.

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