Wrong-doers will be punished if Nkandla upgrade points to corruption – Nxesi
Swift and decisive action will be taken if a probe into the security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s house in Nkandla points to illegal, corrupt or irregular activities, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has said.
“Wrong-doers will be held to account,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Nxesi said he would not pre-empt the findings of investigations being conducted by the Auditor General and a public works task team, nor would he act on the basis of speculation.
Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, which has been declared a national key point, has been upgraded at a reported cost of R248 million, of which Zuma will reportedly pay only five percent, or about R10m.
In a written Parliamentary reply to a question by the Democratic Alliance, the presidency said the scope of work done by public works was limited to the security measures.
DA leader Helen Zille led a delegation to inspect the residence 10 days ago, but was stopped by several hundred ANC supporters.
Yesterday, Nxesi said there were two aspects to the department’s role in the upgrade – the security of the president and accountability for public funds.
“The security upgrade was undertaken by the department of public works in terms of the National Key Points Act,” he said.
It provided for the declaration of certain places as national key points “whenever it is considered necessary for the safety of the Republic or in the public interest”.
The declaration of Zuma’s house as a national key point was made on the basis of a security risk assessment undertaken by a team drawn from the department of defence, police and state security.
“There is nothing unusual about making such a determination which has been applied in respect of residences of past Heads of State.
“That security assessment still stands and therefore it remains the responsibility of public works to complete and implement the project at hand.”
Nxesi said there had to be accountability, transparency and value for money where public funds were involved.
“My department has already requested the Auditor General to conduct an audit in respect of all projects classified as ‘prestige’ – the first time that such a step has been taken by public works,” he said.
Nxesi said the department’s task team, which consisted of people with legal, financial management control, auditing, security, physical protection and construction and maintenance expertise, had been established in response to concerns about the cost of the upgrade.
“This task team will conduct a preliminary investigation into aspects of procedural integrity, over-pricing and general supply chain prescripts.
“At the same time, the department will give its full support to any investigation conducted by authorised state institutions.”