SUNDAY TIMES - Nkandla fall guy hits out at Zuma
54.145.11.9, 54.145.11.9, 127.0.0.1
Sunday Times News By QAANITAH HUNTER, 2016-03-27

Nkandla fall guy hits out at Zuma

Thuli Madonsela has new information on the costs of Nkandla
Image: KGOMOTSO TLEANE

New details have emerged of how state funds were used to buy fittings, fixtures and building materials for three houses at President Jacob Zuma's private homestead in Nkandla - despite his denial that public money was used.

A dossier compiled by former Department of Public Works deputy director-general Rachard Samuel contains 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 reveals that officials involved in the project repeatedly cautioned their political heads that Zuma would have to pay a portion of the costs.

The Sunday Times has also seen e-mail exchanges in which junior officials involved in the project warned their superiors that the cost of Nkandla was escalating substantially.

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.

Samuel was involved in apportioning costs to Zuma for nonsecurity spending on his private residence, but nothing came of that process.

Zuma never paid the department, which later claimed that no public money was spent on the private residence.

In her report on Nkandla, "Secure in Comfort", public protector Thuli Madonsela said she was "not able to establish if costs relating to his private renovations were separated from those of the state".

Madonsela told the Sunday Times that she was not granted access to the information in Samuel's dossier.

"Had it been given to us we would have had a basis to demand confirmation of payment for the private work," she said.

In a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Zuma said no public money was spent on his private homestead.

"My residence in Nkandla has been 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 wrote.

He did not explain how his family paid the contractors for renovations done at the same time as the security upgrades.

Documents show that public works paid:

• R1.5-million for airconditioning at two private houses, a guesthouse and a guardhouse. This is apart from the R5-million for airconditioning detailed in Madonsela's report and that of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). The invoice makes clear the airconditioning was for the private residences;

• R311,932 for covered walkways between private residences. This was not part of the "security" measures asked for by the South African Police Service;

• R54,721.20 for six meranti doors and 26 meranti window frames;

• R11,850 for hinges and bolts, doorstops, stainless steel hat-and-coat hooks, and six doormats that cost R1500 each;

• R34,834.80 for aluminium sliding doors - without bulletproof glass - and other aluminium installations;

• R38,517 for bulletproof sliding doors, which were not included in the SAPS security requirements;

• R63,215 for plastering materials, R23,300 for tiling and R41,406 for painting internal and external walls;

• R271,796 for carpentry and joinery, including roof construction. An attached drawing of the main residence plans and elevations gives details of the type of thatched roofing. Roof coverings cost R465,490, while the carpentry and joinery cost the department R328,450; and

• R2.4-million for "extras".

Jacob Zuma's homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. File photo Image: Supplied

Correspondence between chief quantity surveyor Glenda Pasley and project manager Jean Rindel reveals growing concern over determining how the costs should be split between the state and Zuma.

A committee set up later to determine what Zuma should pay did not involve any of the officials who raised concerns throughout the project.

"The need was again stressed to urgently identify which items are definite state cost items and which are definite private cost items in terms of the current scope of work," Pasley wrote in an e-mail to architectural services director Phillip Crafford.

"Any grey areas in terms of apportionment of work and costs must be identified, discussed and resolved. Items which are essential to the project and items which are 'nice to haves' and therefore not necessarily required for this project must also be identified, discussed and resolved."

All the construction at Nkandla was subjected to the scrutiny of the public protector's office, who made a determination that some of the work undertaken did not relate to security features

At the end of the exercise no amount was determined for Zuma to pay and he was not billed.

"There is no evidence that public money was used to fund upgrades at the private residence of President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla," Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said in 2013.

Barnabas Xulu, a lawyer acting for Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya, said his client had acted on the procurement instructions of public works. Makhanya is facing a civil suit brought by the SIU, which is claiming R155-million from him for cost inflation at Nkandla. Xulu said information in the documents would allow his client to prove that all Makhanya did was to buy material requested by public works.

Zuma's spokesman, Bongani Majola, said the president reiterated that his residence in Nkandla was built and paid for by the Zuma family.

"All the construction at Nkandla was subjected to the scrutiny of the public protector's office, who made a determination that some of the work undertaken by the Department of Public Works did not relate to security features," he said. "This does not detract from the fact that President Zuma has indeed paid the costs of those features which were commissioned by him and his family, and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous."

The Department of Public Works did not answer detailed questions put to it by the Sunday Times.

Nxesi's special adviser, Phillip Masilo, said: "You will recall that the president has submitted before the Constitutional Court that a determination of costs to be paid for alleged nonsecurity features is conducted by the National Treasury and auditor-general for which the president has tendered to pay.

"Therefore, the question of costs relating to nonsecurity features at the president's private residence is one of the issues to be decided by the Constitutional Court."

The court is expected to hand down judgment soon on whether Zuma breached the constitution in his handling of the Madonsela report.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said a criminal investigation into Nkandla was necessary in light of the new information.

"These costs must be included in what the president must pay back to the state coffers," he said.

EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi pointed out that Madonsela's recommendations made room for more of the public money spent on Zuma's private residences to be uncovered. - Additional reporting by Thanduxolo Jika

hunterq@sundaytimes.co.za