Nkandla reloaded

22 July 2015 - 02:03 By Nathi Olifant

ANC MPs looked on yesterday as opposition parliamentarians savaged Police Minister Nathi Nhleko over his bizarre explanation for the expenditure of more than R246-million on President Jacob Zuma's palatial private home. Only Mathole Motshekga, chairman of the justice portfolio committee, tried to shield the minister, whom one MP labelled "James Hadley Chase", the writer of crime fiction.At a meeting in Pietermaritzburg of the ad-hoc parliamentary committee that is to inspect Nkandla this morning, Nhleko was accused of protecting and shielding Zuma - and of doing a bad job of it.Nhleko found in May that Zuma was not liable for any costs for "non-security" features at his Nkandla homestead. He said the firepool, amphitheatre, kraal, chicken run and visitors' centre there were all security features.Nhleko not only insisted they were security features but that more money needed to be spent upgrading and repairing them.Yesterday, FF+ MP Corné Mulder was the first to fire at Nhleko, saying: "You were appointed by the president . and your appointment depends on Zuma," while IFP MP Narend Singh said: "He who pays the piper calls the tune."DA chief whip John Steenhuisen questioned his security expertise."Minister, I have looked at your CV on Wikipedia and you have an interesting record in public service and administration and you have been a member of parliament, but you are no security expert. You carry a mandate from Zuma," Steenhuisen said.Agang MP Andries Tlouamma said Nhleko was like writer James Hadley Chase, adding that he was not prepared to lose his integrity by accepting Nhleko's report."When history judges, it judges you and don't say you were not told. You are defending the indefensible because this report bristles with contradictions. The president must just apologise."I wish you'd be here tomorrow [today] after we have visited Nkandla. I want to know if the pool was a contingency plan or a security upgrade identified from the beginning," asked Tlouamma.Nhleko, who kept his cool during the grilling, said he did not claim to be a security expert and took exception to being compared to Chase.He rubbished suggestions of political patronage."If you are saying my appointment depends on the executive and president so is that of judges, the public protector and many other [officials at] institutions. "From a simplistic point of view, do all those people have to issue reports in favour of the president? This is very childish, unprofessional and unethical. Just desist from those incorrect insinuations," said Nhleko.He was quizzed on the division of costs, with MPs asking why the police and defence force were not paying for staff quarters at Nkandla.The committee chairman, Cedric Frolick, made several unsuccessful attempts to rein in the MPs.ANC chief whip Motshekga said he failed to see why MPs argued that Nhleko had tried to substitute the public protector's findings on Nkandla with his own. The ad hoc committee's work was to consider all reports so why was the minister being subjected to such criticism.Motshekga said attacks on the cattle kraal at Nkandla were an attack on African religion because it was sacred and played a huge role not only for food but as a consulting and burial area, where rituals were performed.The ad-hoc committee is to remain in KwaZulu-Natal for a week.The SA National Editors' Forum has written to Frolick expressing "shock" that the media has not been granted access to Nkandla for today's visit. It said the committee had a duty to ensure such access."Exclusion of the media from the visit to the residence could result in vital information . being withheld from the public," Sanef told Frolick.

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