Zuma dodges Nkandla bullet

03 April 2014 - 02:00
By Thabo Mokone
President Jacob Zuma
Image: Sunday Times President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma has been accused of ducking the R246-million Nkandla security upgrades scandal after telling parliament that he would not submit his comprehensive response to public protector Thuli Madonsela's report until an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit had been completed.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said yesterday that Zuma had given his response to the Madonsela report to National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu but would not give parliament a "full and proper" explanation until he had received the SIU's report on Nkandla.

Zuma had 14 days in which to submit his comments on Madonsela's report to parliament and did so on the last day.

"Noting that three state agencies or institutions ... have all inquired into the same subject matter, the president has decided that he will give a full and proper consideration to all the matters before him and, upon receipt of the SIU report, will provide parliament with a further report on the decisive executive interventions that he would consider to be appropriate," said Maharaj.

SIU head Vas Son said he expected to give his report to Zuma "towards the end of May or early June".

Political parties and analysts have accused Zuma of undermining the office of the public protector and using delaying tactics to dodge accountability .

"The response is woefully inadequate. I don't think it meets the constitutional public standard that the public protector envisaged. What she wanted was a substantive reply within 14 days, not a technical response," said the Institute for Security Studies' Judith February.

But the ANC parliamentary caucus praised Zuma.

"We are pleased with the president's response as it indeed illustrates the seriousness with which he regards the matter and demonstrates a clearest intention to act," said ANC chief whip Stone Sizani.

Madonsela said in her report that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the non-security upgrades at his private home, including the swimming pool, a kraal, a cattle culvert and an amphitheatre.

She has since recommended that Zuma repay the state a percentage of the costs.

Maharaj said Zuma would reveal what action would be taken against those found guilty of wrongdoing when the SIU probe was completed.