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ZUMA FINALLY SPEAKS OUT ON NKANDLA UPGRADES

President Jacob Zuma has finally broken his silence on Nkandla upgrades. This follows the release of the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela. Read his full reply below:

I refer to the above matter as well as the recent report received by me from the Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa, a copy of which is attached for ease of reference.

Upon my assuming office as President of the Republic, Cabinet through its Security Cluster Ministers conducted a security assessment at my private residence at Nkandla, in course of which certain security upgrades were commissioned. This is the norm in respect of all incoming Heads of State in the Republic. In addition, my family had already commenced construction work with a view to improving the same property.

For some time government had been concerned by allegations of maladministration and excessive expenditure in relation to these security upgrades. A preliminary investigation conducted by the Department of Public Works found that the matter was deserving of a full investigation.

The Ministers in the Security Cluster were instructed to launch a full investigation into the needs assessment and analysis, procurement and implementation of the security upgrades as my residence. To this end, a multi-disciplinary Task Team comprising of senior government officials, with the oversight of the Security Cluster Ministers, were tasked to conduct an in debt [sic] investigation.

Their report has been finalised and presented to me and I am aware that Parliament has been favoured with the same.

The Report adopts a particular methodology, appreciation and interpretation of the relevant legislation and contains findings and recommendations on remedial action.

Subsequently, the Public Protector engaged in an investigation into the same security upgrades, the terms of reference being apparent from the report itself. The report reveals the extent to which the Public Protector engaged with the Ministers of the Security Cluster, senior government officials, government security experts, private individuals and indeed myself.

This report adopts a particular methodology, contains certain findings and recommends remedial action to me taken by inter alia myself as President and the various Ministers.

During the course of December 2013, I caused a proclamation to be gazetted which empowers the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to enquire into and investigate the security upgrades at Nkandla. I enclose a copy of the gazette which details the terms of reference.

Exercising my powers in terms of Section 4(1)(f) of the Special Investigating Unit and Special Tribunals Act of 1996, I have written to the Head of the SIU requesting a provisional report in order that I may be appraised of the status of the investigation and to assess whether the investigation is proceeding expeditiously.

I have received an acknowledgment of my correspondence from the SIU and I am assured that the provisional report will be ready to hand shortly.

In the conspectus of these interventions Mr Speaker, I must apply my mind as to the appropriate action to be taken, remedial and otherwise.

I am keenly aware of my status as Head of State as set out in Section 83 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa as well as the concomitant responsibilities to which I am enjoined in terms of the same constitution. So too am I aware and recognise the accountability to Parliament which I share both individually and collectively with my Cabinet in the performance of my responsibilities and oath of office.

On an appraisal of the matters before me, it is apparent that

1. the Security Cluster Ministers cooperated in the Public Protectors’ investigation;

2. both the investigation by the Security Cluster Ministers and the Public Protector enquired into substantively the same subject matter.

3. the Security Cluster Ministers, the Public Protector and the SIU all have a constitutional and legislative mandate to conduct their respective investigations;
4. a considerable amount of state resources have been expended in the conduct of all investigations and the compilation of reports.

Notwithstanding, there are stark differences both in respect of the findings as well as the remedial action proposed in the two reports. This much is clear from the reports as well as very public pronouncements made by the respective parties. In my experience in government I have not encountered such an anomaly.

Mr Speaker, I am intent on giving full and proper consideration to all these matters and upon receipt of the SIU report will provide Parliament with a further final report on the decisive executive interventions which I consider would be appropriate.

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