|Architectural style||Rondavel architecture|
|Town or city||Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal|
|Construction started||29 August 2009|
|Cost||ZAR R 246 631 303|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Minenhle Makhanya at Minenhle Makhanya Architects|
CA du Toit (Security Consultant)
Ramcon Project Management
The Nkandla compound of South African President Jacob Zuma is situated about 24 km south of the town of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal (28°50’42.73″ S 31°05’59.47″ E). There has been public controversy about the use of public funds to make improvements to the compound which were said to be for security reasons which cost over R 246 million. A report of the Public Protector has found that Zuma unduly benefited from these improvements. The controversy is sometimes referred to as Nkandlagate.
The compound is situated on land owned by the Ingonyama Trust, the legal entity that owns the traditional land administered by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu on behalf of the state for the benefit of its occupants.
Improvements made to compound
The South African government public works department is building a helipad, underground bunkers, security and their accommodation, and fencing around the entire complex. According to the ministerial handbook, the department can spend R100,000 on security improvements at the private houses of public officials. Any costs above that must be covered by the official. Over R200,000,000 has appeared to be allocated by the department.
Statements by spokesmen have mentioned an apartheid-era law, the National Key Points Act, as explanation for the spending discrepancy, but that spending should come from a different department. The leaked documention also hints at vastly inflated prices for the work done, much of it not going out to tender, and huge consulting fees.
Prior to the upgrades, then Deputy President Jacob Zuma was suspended from his post pending his rape trial and allegation of racketeering and corruption. On 6 April 2009 charges against him were dropped by the National Prosecuting Agency, citing political interference. On 9 May 2009 he was inaugurated as the fourth post-apartheid President of South Africa. A month later between the 18th and 29 May a security assessment was carried out at his private residence in Nkandla. Construction started on 29 August 2009.
Mail & Guardian
The initial story was uncovered by the Mail & Guardian journalists Mandy Rossouw and Chris Roper. During that period, it was reported that the expansion to the compound would cost R 65 million, paid for by the taxpayer. Expansion to the compound included the installation of a Helipad, visitors center, private military hospital and parking lot. The initial phase would include the building of a double-storey house and a guest house at a projected cost of over R19,4 million (this cost was later uncovered by the amaBhungane investigation of M&G). As soon as the story broke out, government denied having a hand in the upgrades. The public work spokesperson stated:"Please note that there is no work or extension project taking place at President Jacob Zuma's compound at Nkandla.", contradicting initial statements by government. During the site visit at the compound by the journalists, a contractor working at the site noted that the initial costs of the expansion would the latter increase.
Between 13 December 2011 and 12 December 2012 complaints were lodged to the Public Protector. The first complaint was by a public member who expressed concern over the revelations and requested an investigation into the misuse of state funds, allegations which were published by the M&G. On 30 September 2012, former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader also lodged a similar complaint, including three other members of the public between October and November 2012.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's final report on security upgrades to the compound titled "Secure in comfort" was published on 19 March 2014. Madonsela found that Zuma had benefited unduly from the R246 million the state had spent on the upgrades.
"Like all South Africans I have recently read in the media the appalling story of the sums of taxpayers’ money being spent on the private residence of President Jacob Zuma. This is opulence on a grand scale and as an honest, loyal, taxpaying South African I need to understand how this is allowed to happen. Strangely civil society is quiet. This is wrong and highlights the complete disregard which this Government has for the citizens of this country. Where is this money coming from and how has it been approved?"
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela and her team were tasked with the investigation.The report into the Nkandla upgrade was documented under "Secure and Comfort". The investigation was conducted in terms of the provisions section 182 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (the Constitution) and sections 6 and 7 of the Public Protector Act, 1994 (the Public Protector Act). Part of the investigation was also conducted in terms of sections 3 and 4 of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, 1998 (the Executive Members’ Ethics Act).
The Ministerial Handbook
In her investigation, Madonsela said that the Ministerial Handbook had a maximum security spending of R100 000 should The Minister of Public Works issue approval. Since the house at Nkandla is privately owned by the President, he would only be granted R100 000 for security measures. Therefore the President would have acted in violation of the Ministerial Handbook.
On 13 January 2013 the Public Protector informed the President that she would be unable to conclude her report within the prescribed 30 day period - Section 3(2) of the Executive Members' Ethics Act states that : "if the Public Protector reports at the end of the 30 day period that the investigation has not been completed, the Public Protector must submit a report when the investigation has been completed". The President suggested to Public protector that she had failed to comply with the 30 day period and to report that the investigation was ongoing and whether the process was justifiable. The President and his lawyers tried to negate the validity of the investigation by requiring the Public protector to indicate whether President had the power to condone any non-compliance. There is no provision in the Constitution, that authorises the President to condone any action or omission of the Public Protector.
The security cluster, which is composed of government ministers, raised security questions about the conclusion of the investigation. Eventually the Public protector was taken to court on 8 November 2013 for not giving the security cluster enough time to study the Provisional Report released beforehand.
Police prevented Helen Zille from approaching the compound on 4 November 2012. She intended "to see what a R250-million renovation with public money looks like", but was prevented from approaching by a police line. She was referring to the security upgrades of R246 million which is multiple times larger than security upgrades to previous presidents' homes. Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the opposition party adopted a "cowboy style" approach to getting the answers it wanted, and questioned Zille's use of the word "compound" to describe the homestead.
Shortly after the publication of Madonsela's report, the DA sent a bulk text message to Gauteng voters ahead of the 2014 general election which reads: "The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change." The ANC submitted an urgent application to the South Gauteng High Court to stop distribution of the text message on the grounds that it violated the Electoral Act. On 4 April 2014, the court ruled that the wording of the message was fair comment and dismissed the ANC's application with costs. The ANC was granted leave to appeal the decision. On 6 May 2014, the Electoral Court ruled that the DA must retract the text message, finding that it wrongly targeted Zuma personally instead of the systematic failures highlighted in Madonsela's report. The court case was ultimately won by the DA when the Constitutional Court set aside the Electoral Court ruling on 19 January 2015.
On 28 April 2014, an Parliamentary ad hoc committee set up to consider Zuma's response to Madonsela's report was referred to the next Parliament to be formed after the 2014 general election, citing insufficient time available before the 7 May election date. A new Parliamentary ad hoc committee was established in August 2014.
As of 11 August 2014, a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) mandated to investigate the matter by Zuma in December 2013 is sueing the architect for R155.3 milion in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court. On 12 September 2014, the SIU's report on their investigation was tabled in Parliament. The SIU said that the Zuma family was enriched by the upgrades and blamed overspending on the architect and public works officials, who have alleged interference by Zuma and others who have all denied these allegations. The SIU also found that security measures were still inadequate despite the overspending.
The new Parliamentary ad hoc committee will consider the report of an inter-ministerial task team published in December 2013, the Public Protectors' final report published in March 2014 and the SIU's report published in September 2014, as well as Zuma's responses to them.
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