Wednesday, July 10, 2013

State Spent Millions on Nkandla Luxuries

Documents published confirm that at least R 52 million spent on non-security features

Nkandlagate: Documents confirm public spending on prestige presidential palace

Documents obtained by the Mail & Guardian newspaper confirm that millions of public money spent by the Department of Public Works on Nkandla relate to presidential luxuries rather than security upgrades as previously claimed by the Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi (see here). These latest revelations add to the growing stockpile of evidence against so called ‘security concerns' used in attempts to suppress information regarding the spending scandal. 
The relevant documents, entitled "Durban Prestige Project A: Motivations and cost allocations", confirm public spending totalling at least R52 million on items that do not relate to security upgrades, R11.4 million on landscaping alone. Other items outlined in the documents that are indicative of gross excessive expenditure on presidential luxuries include:

  • R160,000 spent on special lighting at the estate's "social node"; 
  • R210,000 spent on a timber pergola over parking at the residential arrival;
  • R500,000 on a tuck-shop and associated costs included in the same line item;
  • R700,000 spent on paving between the residential terrace and other walkways;
  • R1.4 million for a new kraal and related vegetation;
  • R2 million spent on refuse-removal facilities;
  • R2.3 million on parking space;
  • R9 million on 6 roads in and around the estate;
  • R10 million on costs associated to the construction of a helipad.

What is even more disturbing than the costs outlined in the documents, are the motivations provided for them. Many of the costs are justified in the documents as "enhance(ing) the estate to a Prestige Level". Other motivations for expenditures include "to create an African identity which enhances the experience for visiting Heads of State", "to assist with a sense of arrival" and "bringing the project in line with Prestige Projects". 

According to the Presidency there are two official offices for the President and five official residences - two in Pretoria and Cape Town respectively and another in Durban. These buildings are owned and maintained by the State to accommodate a sitting President and allow him to host official vising guests. There is simply no justification for President Zuma's private residence at Nkandla to be upgraded to this extent. 

I will write to the committee chair, Mrs Manana Mabuza, requesting that all of these documents obtained by the Mail and Guardian be placed before the Portfolio Committee of Public Works for scrutiny. If necessary we will request that National Assembly rule 138 be invoked to summon Minister Nxesi to appear before the committee to explain the spending.

The DA also continues to await response to our appeal of the non-response to the PAIA application to gain access to the Task Team Report. Given the evidence set out above, it is clear that the "security concerns" argument can no longer be used to justify it being withheld from the DA and Parliament.

The DA will continue to do everything in its power to ensure the truth about Nkandla is revealed and that those responsible are held accountable, regardless of who they are. This scandal is now reaching a tipping point - if Minister Nxesi has nothing to hide he would be well advised to stop his relentless cover-up.

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