20 March 2014
The government welcomes the release of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s final report on security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.
Briefing journalists after a Cabinet meeting in Pretoria, Radebe said the government fully respected South Africa’s Constitution – including the Chapter 9 institutions set up in terms of the Constitution – and noted that most of the recommendations made by the Public Protector were already being implemented.
He said the government would reflect on the findings and recommendations contained in the report “with a view of determining a way forward,” adding that the report confirmed the essential findings of the government’s own investigations into the Nkandla upgrades.
He said the government had, throughout the entire process, respected the Public Protector right to investigate the matter, while maintaining that it also had the right to conduct its own investigations into maladministration.
“It is now common cause that there was no political interference in the execution of the project and its investigation by the office of the Public Protector. Furthermore, the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) is seized with this matter with a view to bring to book those in the public and private sector who are implicated in wrongdoing,” Radebe said.
“We note and welcome that the report is categorical in stating that no public funds were used in building the private residence of the President.”
Radebe said the SIU investigation into maladministration by public and private sector officials involved with the Nkandla upgrades was at an advanced stage, adding that the Public Protector’s report would guide government into what disciplinary action should be taken. “The report will be forwarded to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecutorial consideration.”
Radebe said the Department of Public Works had developed a revised policy and norms and standards for the management and control of “prestige projects” which “closes the loopholes identified by the government investigation reports such as approval systems, financial delegation, and tightens controls on supply chain processes.
“Further to this policy, the financial delegations to regional officials in prestige projects has since been withdrawn,” Radebe said, adding: “The Department of Public Works has finalised the cost apportionment of the project for recovery of funds from SA Police Services and the Department of Defence.”
Zuma to study Protector’s findings
The Presidency, meanwhile, said in a statement on Wednesday that President Zuma would study the findings and recommendations of the Public Protector’s report “in the context of the existing government interventions, and will communicate his response in due course”.
Zuma “has consistently been concerned about the allegations of impropriety around procurement in the Nkandla project,” the Presidency said, and it was for this reason that the government had appointed an inter-ministerial task team to conduct its own investigation into the project. The task team’s report had been made public and had also been presented to Parliament.
“In addition, last December, President Zuma directed the Special Investigating Unit to probe alleged maladministration committed during the implementation of the security upgrades at Nkandla.
“In this context, the Public Protector’s report will be an additional tool which will fall under the consideration of President Zuma in addressing allegations of maladministration.”
One of the key successes of South Africa’s democracy, the Presidency said, was the Constitution, along with the Chapter 9 Institutions set up in terms of the Constitution in order to safeguard and strengthen the country’s democracy. These institutions included the office of the Public Protector.
“President Zuma reaffirms the important role of the Chapter 9 institutions and emphasises that the country should take pride in their existence, as we celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy, and guard against the abuse and misuse of these institutions.”