South Africa: Nkandla Overhaul ‘Unconscionable’

Pretoria — The excessive amount spent by government in the overhaul of President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home was unconscionable, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.

“The expenditure incurred by the state, including buildings and other items installed by the DPW (department of public works), many of which went beyond what was reasonably required for the president’s security was unconscionable, excessive and caused a misappropriation of public funds,” she said.

“The failure to spend state funds prudently is a contravention of section 195 of the Constitution and sections of the Public Finance Management Act.”

She was briefing reporters in Pretoria as she released a report on her probe into the Nkandla security upgrade.

Madonsela said her investigations followed seven complaints lodged between December 2011 and November 2012.

The initial complaint was from an unidentified member of the public seeking veracity over a 2011 newspaper report alleging the lavish upgrades.

Madonsela said that during the upgrading process, many additions were made leading to R215 million which had already been spent, while outstanding work was currently estimated at R36 million.

This would bring the envisaged total to R246 million.

Among other concerns, the people who complained wanted Madonsela to find out whether any funds had been transferred from other critical projects for the Nkandla revamp to take place.

They also wanted to know how such an amount would be spent on a government employee and the possible abuse of executive privileges.

Some complainants wanted Madonsela to probe if the allocation of funds for a private home which would not remain within the state’s ownership represented irregular expenditure.

Madonsela found that critical service delivery programmes were sacrificed and money was diverted towards upgrades to Zuma’s homestead.

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