The parliamentary ad hoc committee set up to consider the police minister’s report on security upgrades at the President’s private residence in Nkandla today concluded its business in Parliament, following a series of meetings in Parliament and Pietermaritzburg as well as in loco inspection at Nkandla private residence of the President.
The ad hoc committee received briefings from the police minister Nathi Nhleko and public works minister Thulas Nxesi. The two ministers were instructed by the previous ad hoc committee, in line with its recommendations, to undertake certain tasks and report back to Parliament.
The police minister was called again yesterday to provide further clarity on certain questions emanating from the committee’s inspection visit at Nkandla. The ANC has reiterated its view that the standard of work witnessed at Nkandla does not correlate with the exorbitant cost for which the state was charged by private contractors.
The committee members were shocked during the visit to discover that the features previously described as luxury, opulent, comfortable and secure at Nkandla were in fact shoddy workmanship, poor quality and the standard as well as the scope of the features were grossly misrepresented.
For instance, the committee found that the so-called grand amphitheater was nothing but a soil retention structure, the so-called double story visitors centre intended to host heads of states is but a tiny office space the size of a modest constituency office, and the cattle kraal is no different to a standard kraal usually found in rural villages.
All these point to a collusion between officials and private contractors to grossly inflate prices and loot the state of millions of rands. It is clear that these individuals saw a legitimate project to upgrade security at the President’s home as an opportunity to line their pockets with millions of tax payers’ money.
A significant exaggeration of costs went to 21 houses built for police and military, a clinic and helipad – which cost the state a total of R135.2m. These structures are built on the 38224 hectare state-owned land – several kilometers away from, and outside the homestead of the President.
At the actual homestead of the President, just over R50m was spent for security upgrades – and this amount also seems inflated given the shoddy workmanship and poor quality features found by the committee members during the visit.
All these affirms our longstanding view that no stone should be left unturned in ensuring that those responsible are held accountable both criminally and in terms of recouping the looted taxpayers’ money. In this regard, we are pleased that the department of public works has made progress, including:
Pursuing criminal action against consultant Minenhle Makhanya
Instituting disciplinary process against 12 officials involved in the project with charges relating to the irregular appointment of various contractors
Pursuing criminal cases in respect of three former senior DPW officials and one contractor referred to the prosecuting authority
Referring 14 consultants for possible fraudulent or invalid Tax Clearance Certificates to SARS
The department has also taken steps to strengthen its control systems, including reforming its entire supply chain management (SCM) processes and establishing the department’s Government Risk and Compliance Branch to ensure that all SCM processes are in compliance with the legislative requirements.
The ANC in this Parliament, as the majority party, will ensure that these criminal and disciplinary actions against contractors and officials are closely monitored to ensure that the monies are recouped and those who connived to rob the state face the music.
The committee has called those institutions Parliament has instructed to act on its recommendations to brief it on the work done and provide clarifications. These are the departments whose reports it has the responsibility to interrogate and powers to change in line with the terms of its reference.
Calling the public protector to appear before the committee, as called by some parties, would be tantamount to rehashing the investigation of the chapter 9 institution whose report the committee has no powers to change. Also, at no point in the duration of the ad hoc committee’s life has a view been expressed regarding the need for further clarity from the public protector.
The office of the public protector has done its work. It is neither practical nor sustainable that an institution should be called to respond before Parliament whenever a view is expressed regarding reports it release.
Statement issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip