Zuma: I take exception to being called first-class corruption man
President Jacob Zuma has for the first time told of the hurt and anger the close scrutiny of the multimillion rand government upgrades to his private home in Nkandla has caused him and his family.
Departing from his written script while answering questions in the National Assembly, and with his voice breaking at times, Zuma angrily said: “I feel aggrieved, I’m telling you for the first time”.
With reference to the DA’s march to his home, he said members of political parties have marched to his home and have taken pictures of it “and made a laughing stock of my family. I take exception to this.”
He said the houses shown on television were the ones his family had paid for, and not what government had built.
He later said, again with a breaking voice: “I have been convicted, painted black, called the first-class corruption man on facts that are not tested. I take exception.”
In what was an unusually rowdy sitting, following Parliament’s refusal of an opposition request to debate a motion of no confidence in Zuma, scores of ANC supporters were seated in the public gallery and had to be called to order by National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu several times.
The sitting also, unusually, started with warm applause from ANC benches and the public gallery for Zuma, and it ended with songs being sung in Zuma’s praise.
Zuma, in reply to a question by DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko on whether he instructed Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi to stop building on his Nkandla home pending an investigation by the Public Protector, said: “My residence in Nkandla has been paid for by the Zuma family. All the buildings and every room we use in that residence, was built by ourselves as family and not by government.
“I have never asked government to build a home for me, and it has not done so.”
He said a distinction should be made between the building he and his family had done to the home, and the security enhancements done by government.
He said when he became president he and his family decided to expand the home and called in contractors.
Zuma added that he took out a bond for the upgrade
of his home, and was still paying off that bond. He did not say how much
He also said there was a second family home, which wasn’t shown on television and which government did not do any security upgrades to.
When he was told after a security risk assessment by the departments of defence, police and state security that his home needed a security upgrade, he said they should speak to the constructors.
“All the security enhancements that have been undertaken by the department of public works at my residence in Nkandla have been part of these security requirements,” he said.
“Any other construction undertaken by government, outside the perimeter of my home, such as the accommodation for government security personnel, are not part of my residence.”
He said it was not true government was building his home.
“People are speaking without knowing, saying I spent so much money from government. It is unfair – I won’t use any harsher words.”
He said government paid for the fencing around his house, bulletproof windows as well as the bunker.
Mazibuko angrily followed up Zuma’s response by saying the fact that government was spending all that money on a security upgrade of Zuma’s private home, was exactly what was at stake.
She asked whether the air-conditioning systems, the lifts to the bunkers, the gyms and the visitor centre were part of the security enhancements.
Zuma responded that these weren’t part of the home he had built.
Zuma has given the assurance that action would be taken if any wrongs were unearthed in government’s investigations of the way the tenders had been awarded.