Nkandla public works officials off the hook

11 April 2018 - 13:06 By Bongani Mthethwa
President Zuma's homestead in Nkandla. File photo.
President Zuma's homestead in Nkandla. File photo.
Image: Thembinkosi Dwayisa

The 12 senior officials from the Department of Public Works who were facing a disciplinary hearing relating to the controversial R246-million security upgrades at former President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead are off the hook — and for good.

Public works spokesman Thami Mchunu has confirmed that the department settled all cases with the officials last year and that they were all back at work.

“They were settled through negotiations with employee representatives‚ ” said Mchunu without elaborating.

This was also confirmed by Public Service Association’s KwaZulu-Natal manager‚ Claude Naicker‚ who said: “They resolved it via a settlement agreement and the unions are not prepared to talk about it because of the non-disclosure clause.”

However‚ TimesLIVE has established that while all 12 officials are back at work‚ the cases against two of their colleagues are still pending. However‚ these are expected to be resolved soon.

A source with direct knowledge of the agreement said: “We won’t be going back to the Nkandla issue anymore and that has been settled. I cannot divulge any thing because the employer can take me to task for that because it’s been stamped in front of the commissioner.”

The disciplinary hearing centred around the 12 officials not following the correct procedures regarding procurement‚ project management and supply chain management.

The officials maintained their innocence throughout‚ arguing that they had followed all proper procedures in terms of the security upgrades at Zuma’s homestead.

The disciplinary hearings got underway in 2014 but had to be put on hold after a joint application by Times Media Group (now Tiso Blackstar Group)‚ Media24 and Mail & Guardian for media access to the hearings.

In his judgement delivered in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in 2016‚ Judge Piet Koen ruled that denying media access to the Nkandla disciplinary hearings was wrong and upheld the application by the media groups.

He said the public nature of the Nkandla upgrade demanded that the public be given the full facts to make informed choices‚ including whether or not the disciplinary hearings instigated against the employees were properly founded.

The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that should Zuma be convicted of corruption‚ the state could confiscate his Nkandla homestead for having been built with the “proceeds of crime”.

Zuma is facing charges of corruption‚ fraud‚ money laundering and racketeering relating to the arms deal two decades ago. The corruption case could reveal his financial affairs such as the donations and soft loans he received from friends‚ family and benefactors to fund his lifestyle and pay for Nkandla.