Deliberations after the visit to the private residence of the President

Ad Hoc Committee on Police Minister's Report on Nkandla

22 July 2015
Chairperson: Mr C Frolick (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Ad Hoc Committee on Police Minister’s Report met in Pietermaritzburg to continue with the deliberations after the visit to the private residence of the President. Members appreciated that they had been afforded an opportunity to visit the private residence of the President as it was very insightful and offered everyone an opportunity to make any conclusion on the escalated costs in the security upgrades. It was also evident during the visit that there was a lot of shoddy work that had been done by contractors and it was suggested that there should be measures in place to recover the money from the contractors that had been hired in order to ensure that there was a value for taxpayer’s money. There was an overwhelming consensus from Members that most of what had been reported in the media regarding the security upgrades in Nkandla had been exaggerated especially on the issue of an amphitheatre and the cattle kraal.  The Committee welcomed the indications that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had been pursuing civil litigation against the architect and other construction workers in order to recover the R155.2 million.
Most Members admitted that it might be valid that there was a need for fire services as fire hydrants are not sufficient but the problem was that equipment was not always on standby and it could take about an hour to get to the venue in case of fire emergency. Some Members felt that the escalation of the cost in the whole project had been done deliberately by those who were involved in the project management and the President was supposed to take some form of responsibility for this embezzlement of funds. They also expressed a concern that “firepool”, construction of 21 houses, visitor’s lounge, VIP parking, air conditioning and relocation of poor households were part of the security features despite the fact that the SIU report on page 207 had made it very clear that these were not part of the security measures.It was confusing that there was only one cost centre as there should had been at least 3 cost centres so that theSouth African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) could be able to carry the cost.
Members clarified that the impression that had been created by the media was that the President’s private homestead cost R246 million and yesterday’s oversight visit showed that, at least R135 million  of that amount had nothing to do with the President’s private homestead. It was easy to argue that the portion of R21 million that had been used for consultancy fees also had nothing to do with the President’s private homestead. Some Members suggested both the President and Public Protector needed to be summoned before the Committee as they had been mentioned and vilified in the better part of the meetingand therefore it would be useful for them to respond to those vilifications and slanders that had been directed to them. It was concerning to hear that there would be a need of an additional R31 million to be used for the security upgrades despite the fact that a shoddy work had already been done.
Members expressed disappointment that the Minister of Police only chose to focus on four measures that are considered as non-security features while in reality there are extensive measures that were considered as non-security measures by the SIU report and that of the Public Protector and the Minister had overridden both of these reports. The debate on the extension of the cattle kraal remained on the fact that the Public Protector had said that the President had requested the extension of the cattle kraal and was willing to reimburse the state on the costs to be incurred. The overwhelming majority of Members supported the suggestion to summon both the Minster of Police and Public Works to explain to the Committee on matters that still required clarity. Members agreed that the President was vulnerable to a number of threats as his security safeness had been hugely compromised. 
 

Meeting report

Day 2: Deliberations after the visit to the private residence of the President
The Chairperson pointed out that the purpose of the meeting today would be to hear from Members on their experience after the visit to the private residence of the President, following the report from the Minister of Police.
 
Adv G Breytenbach (DA) asked if it was possible for the Minister of Police to be present in the meeting as there were issues that had to be raised in relation to the reports of South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the observations of the Committee from the visit to Nkandla.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) added that there was also a report that was compiled by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Department of Public Works (DPW) but that was not provided in the package of the documents that had been given to Members. This report was essential since the Minister heavily relied upon the report for the costing of the security upgrades at the private residence of the President at Nkandla.

The Chairperson stated that the Minister of Police was willing to engage further with Members on the issues that still required clarity, although this could only be done through his office. The Chairperson would then he can organise time for the Minister to brief the Committee on those issues. Members should forward their written questions to the Committee Secretary so that those questions could be forwarded to the Minister.

Mr Swart indicated that indeed the visit to the private residence of the President was very insightful as it gave everyone an opportunity to make their conclusions on the escalated costs in the security upgrades at the residence of the President. It was also evident, during the visit, that there was a lot of shoddy work that was done by contractors, and it would be helpful for the state to recover the money from the contractors who had been hired, in order to ensure that there was value for money. The Committee welcomed the indications that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was pursuing civil litigation against the architect and other construction workers in order to recover the R155.2 million. It was also clear there were problems of cost inflation, scope-creep, and cracked walls in the buildings that had been constructed, and this was one of the reasons that South Africans were outraged about the amount that had been spent on the security upgrades at Nkandla. It might well be a valid point that there was a need for fire services, as there were not sufficient fire hydrants, but the problem was that equipment was not always on standby and it would take about an hour to get to the venue in case of fire emergency. The most contentious issue was the extent to which the President had unduly benefited from the security upgrades at his private residence. It was clear that the size of the residence had been improved substantially. particularly the extension of the cattle kraal that cost R1.5 million.

Mr Swart mentioned that the documents that had been given to Members yesterday were very useful, especially when taking into consideration the Cabinet Memorandum of 2003, which made it clear that “the SAPS should ascertain security needs and advise the Minister” and “whatever measures have been approved by the Minister shall subsequently be communicated to the President for consent”. The issue to be questioned now was to what extent the President had consented to the security upgrades at his private residence. The Cabinet Memorandum of 2003 also indicated that “if security measures are downgraded or terminated, any permanent structure shall become the property of the owner of the land on which the same structure was erected, who shall have to maintain them”. 

Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) said that the purpose of the visit to Nkandla was to check if there was validity in the statement that the non-security features - like the swimming pool, cattle kraal and visitors’ centre - were really security features. It was high time that leaders were able to show transparency and honesty as leaders of the country, and admit that the swimming pool/“firepool”, animal enclosure, cattle kraal and visitors centre were all part of the non-security features. He was of the view that the the Minister’s report was only meant to protect the President. He also expressed the view that the escalation of the costs in the whole project was done deliberately by those who were involved in the project management and the President should take action against those who were involved in the shoddy work at his private residence. It was just unfortunate that the President had to be embroiled in all this project mismanagement. The focus should be on how the officials from the DPW had authorised the costs that had been charged by the construction companies.

Ms M Kubayi (ANC) indicated that the visit to the private residence of the President confirmed the main issue that everyone had been talking about, which was the escalation of cost. The visit to Nkandla brought about mixed emotions. It was clear that what had been referred as the visitors’ centre was actually a reception area and everyone could attest to this sentiment. There was also no visible amphitheatre but just an assembly point. The language and descriptions that had used in the public domain were very misleading. The intention of the security upgrades at Nkandla was to secure the President, and it was evident during the visit that his security had in fact been compromised. The construction companies and the officials from DPW that were involved in the shoddy work at Nkandla should be held responsible. 

Mr N Kwankwa (UDM) commented that the presentation of the Minister the previous day initially gave him the impression that the upgrades were orchestrated and to a large extent were also done under subterfuge. However, it should be admitted that the Minister’s report, to a large extent, did assist in the process of the oversight visit to Nkandla especially the security features to be scrutinised. The question of who was to be held accountable for the abuse of state resources in the security upgrades at the private residence of the President was still a mystery, and it was easy to blame the officials and downplay the powerful role that was often played by politicians. All the people that were responsible for the “mess that was discovered” in Nkandla during the oversight visit should be held accountable, including the politicians, and the President was the first person to be held accountable. It was indeed true that what was often referred as a visitors’ centre was just a modest reception area and the fact that the President was to host other state presidents in such a structure was a huge embarrassment to South Africa.

Mr Kwankwa highlighted that no matter what was the debate on the extension of the cattle kraal, the reality remained that the money that was spent on the kraal must be reimbursed to the state. The Public Protector had made it clear that the President had requested the extension of the kraal. The question on whether the President was supposed to pay for the cost escalation remained a mystery, as he had indicated, but the focus should be on who benefited from the cost escalation in order to be held accountable. In relation to the amphitheatre, it was truly “melodramatic” for anyone to refer to the structure as an amphitheatre, as this looked like a garden. It was hard to be convinced that the swimming pool was for security purposes only and it was evident that the secondary purpose had taken over, and this pool was mainly being used for recreational purposes. In essence, the UDM was adamant that it was impossible to entirely blame the officials for the mess that was observed in Nkandla, as the politicians were also very powerful. The tendency to always blame officials gave a portrayal of the ANC government as the party in office or as a government in office, but not one in power.

Mr J Selfe (DA) said that what was clear from the visit to the President’s homestead was that taxpayers’ money had been abused in “a monumental way” and it was still not clear at the moment as to who should be blamed from this project mismanagement. It was also clear that there were items that were purchased and built on a scale which did not justify the expenses which were paid. He agreed with Ms Kubayi that the visitors’ centre was simply akin to a constituency office, was not as lavish as it had been portrayed in the media, and it would indeed be an embarrassment to the country to receive a visiting head of state in that environment. It was not known how the so-called amphitheatre was built on such a large scale, while it was possible to build a far more modest soil retention wall. The same applied to the extension of the cattle kraal, as it was clear that the scale of the extension of the cattle kraal did not seem to justify what had been provided. It was extraordinary to discover that the clinic was supposedly not only constructed for the benefit of the President but also for the entire community, but that clinic was simply not used and not equipped. The SIU report had shown that there were a number of officials that had done things wrongly in the security upgrades at the private residence of the President, and there should be consequences taken against them.

Mr Selfe mentioned that reference had been made to correspondence from Senior Superintendent Linde of the SAPS Building and Planning Committee, and that paragraph 2 of the letter states “ by instruction of the State President, President Zuma, the existing house at Nkandla, currently accommodating SAPS members, must be converted as part of the President’s household.”

It was now important to establish whether there had been other instructions that had been given by the President to various officials from any other government department, on the need for certain other aspects to be converted also as part of the Presidential household. It was impossible for the Committee to establish the security features that the President was liable to pay for, and that was the reason why the Public Protector had recommended that the Minister of Police needed to work with the National Treasury (NT) in order to determine the reasonable amount that the President was liable to pay in respect of the non-security upgrades at his private residence.

Mr A Tloumma (AGANG) firstly expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to visit the private residence of the President, agreeing that it had given Members insight, and gave everyone an opportunity to come to conclusions on the escalated costs in the security upgrades at Nkandla. It would have been useful to have the presentation of the Minister of Police after the visit to Nkandla, as most of the questions that had been asked previously were somehow responded to. The so-called amphitheatre that was discovered in Nkandla was not as lavish as the one that had been described in the public domaim. The Public Protector had highlighted that the project manager or the architect, Mr Minenhle Makhanya, had become effectively the project manager, and it was clear that this person was under someone’s instruction.

Mr Tloumma said that it would be “bizarre and offensive” to say that the President did not know about the security upgrades at his private residence, as the instruction to the architect was in fact the instruction of the President. In a traditional context, President Zuma, as a head of the household, was supposed to be aware of everything that was happening in his own complex, and it was puzzling that this explanation had been used to suit a certain agenda.

He was of the view that although the swimming pool might be used as a contingency plan for fire-fighting, it was surely initially intended for recreational purposes, given the design and the aesthetic appearance of the swimming pool that was more suitable for relaxing than fire-fighting. The victims of all the mess that had been observed in Nkandla were the taxpayers and not the President, although some of the Committee Members seemed to want to portray President as the victim.
 
Mr Tloumma added that the reality was that President Zuma had “mastered the role of victimhood” and this was quite clear from the scandals in which he had previously been embroiled. There was a history, in the DPW, where ministers had been purged in order to protect President Zuma, and this should be taken into consideration when looking at the security upgrades at his private residence. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should have been done before the construction was undertaken and it was clear that the project that was done in Nkandla was not properly planned, tender processes were not followed. and the comparison of costs was done by people who were close to Mr Makhanya, who also happened to be close to the President and his family. The money that had been lost on Nkandla must be recovered as a matter of urgency. Taxpayers’ money could not be used for the enrichment of the President and his family.

It was interesting to note that the roofing of all the houses was similar and this again indicated that the architect for those was the same person as for the homestead. He wanted to quote Mr Chris Hani, who once said that “we should never allow criminals to investigate themselves”. He said that it would be unusual to expect the Minister of Police to hold the President accountable for the costs that had been incurred by taxpayers on Nkandla.
 
Mr V Smith (ANC) commented that the impression that had been created was that the President’s private homestead cost R246 million, but yesterday’s oversight visit showed that at least R135 million had nothing to do with the President’s private homestead. It was easy to argue that the portion of R21 million that had been used for consultancy fees also had nothing to do with the President’s private homestead. The Minister’s report had made it clear that it was not correct that the R246 million cost was correctly ascribed to the President’s private homestead. He urged that South Africans needed start calling things as they were. References to the “amphitheatre” and the “visitors’ centre” created an impression that the places were lavish and opulent.

He agreed that there had been flouting of legislation, especially the Supply Chain Management (SCM) and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) prescripts, by people who had been working on the project, and the Accounting Officer was clearly responsible for the mess that had been observed in Nkandla. The initiatives by the SIU and the Public Protector should be expedited and concluded. Accountability needed to be prioritised, so that the work at the private residence could be finalised and completed.

Mr Smith said that the statement that the President had instructed Senior Superintendent Linde that the existing house at Nkandla, currently accommodating SAPS members, must be converted as part of the President’s household. still did not absolve the officials who had been instructed to carry out an illegal practice. It should be made clear that the R135 million and the R21 million that had nothing to do with the President’s private homestead should be taken into consideration for whatever decision would be taken on the money that the President was required to reimburse.
 
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) said that she had been sitting in now on this Ad Hoc Committee for the third time, and Members had been very consistent in saying that those who had contravened the prescripts of PFMA and SCM should be punished. It was shocking to see the shoddy standard of the reception area in Nkandla as this was the opposite of what had been described in the media. There was no visible amphitheatre but merely a soil retention wall, which was needed given the slope of the area. This place was very small with no stage, and there was no need to exaggerate its true nature to mislead the general public. It was of concern that there was no equipment that was connected to the pool in order to be prepared in the event of fire. It was explained that there were negotiations between the DPW and the President as to the houses that had been built for the SANDF and SAPS members, and arrangements on the transfer of those houses.

Ms Dlakude noted that the clinic was located outside the private residence of the President and the public was also supposed to utilise the clinic, although it was currently non-functional. There was a wall that divided the President’s private residence and the state’s infrastructure. In relation to the issue of the cattle kraal, it was explained that the animals were relocated because they were interfering with the security features, but the kraal that was depicted in the media was totally different from what had been observed by Members. The family kraal was even better than the new cattle kraal. The costs for the extension of the cattle kraal were inflated and taxpayers’ money was misused. The previous Ad Hoc Committee had agreed that there was no state money used to build the President’s private residence and the statement must be corrected that the President introduced Mr Makhanya precisely because he was the one that had previously built the other houses.
 
Ms Dlakude indicated that the Public Protector’s recommendations were based on the reports of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team that were set up to investigate what was happening in Nkandla and this was the matter that Members needed to take into consideration. It was explained that the barracks, consisting of 21 houses for the SANDF and SAPS members, were built some 1.5 km away from the President’s private residence and therefore there was no way that the President could be “attached” to those features. There was an overwhelming consensus that there was no way that one bachelor house could cost an estimated R6.6 million and clearly the state had been defrauded in this case. She recommended that the Minister of Public Works, together with those departments that were responsible for the safety of the President, needed to be called before the Committee so that they could account on the misuse of public funds in Nkandla. It was unfair and insulting to say that the President was liable for everything that had gone wrong in Nkandla, as it implied that the officials should not be held accountable. The Minster’s report was based on what had been observed by Members in Nkandla and the ruling party was particularly concerned about the fact that the safety of the President had been compromised, with the evidence clearly there for everyone to see. The contractors who had been hired to secure the President did shoddy work and they must be held accountable for that.

Mr N Singh (IFP) appreciated the fact that Members had been given an opportunity to visit the President’s private residence and this should have been the first step that was taken by the previous Ad Hoc Committee so that Members could have broader insight about what was happening in Nkandla. The assumptions that had been made by the media were based on the fact that the media had not been allowed access to the President’s private residence. He agreed with most Members that it was impossible to ascribe the R135 million as money that had been used to build the President’s private residence. However, it must be pointed out that it was only impossible to directly link the R135 million because there was a causal link between the barracks and clinic that had been constructed and the President’s private residence. It would have been impossible to build the clinic and the barracks if it was not for the security upgrades that had been installed in President’s private residence.

Mr Singh added that there was a clinic nearby to Nkandla already, the Nxamalala Clinic and this would be a strong indicator that the clinic that had been built within the premises of the President was entirely for his own benefits. In relation to the issue of the extension of the cattle kraal, it was indeed true that there was no value for money that had been used to extend the kraal, but it was always of concern to the general public when millions was spent on cattle kraals and chicken runs. There was no need for the Minster of Police to provide justification for the swimming poo,l as the purpose of the swimming pool could be twisted to fit a particular agenda. It must not be forgotten that there were now a number of people that had benefited immensely from everything that had gone wrong in Nkandla. He suggested that the focus of the Committee should not be on whether the President should pay for the non-security features in Nkandla, as this was the matter to be discussed at a later stage. It was indeed true that the security and safety of the President had been compromised and this was the matter that should be a concern for everyone, as the priority of the security upgrades was to secure the President.

Mr Singh mentioned that the general public was not wrong in saying that most of the security upgrades that had been installed at the private residence of the President were opulent, especially when juxtaposed with the poverty apparent in the surrounding area of Nkandla. There was nothing so luxurious about the facilities that had been installed in Nkandla that could, however, justify the money that was spent. The Committee still needed to ascertain whether the installation of the security cameras and other security features was paid for, or if there was a separate contract involved. It was surprising that the Minster was not in a position to tell the Committee if the Department of Police was to pay for the 21 houses that were built for SAPS members. It was yet to be determined if the President was somehow involved in the decisions about the inflated costs that had been charged for most of the security upgrades. The Committee would also need to establish the correct legal authority for security upgrades, and how the National Key Points Act was related to that, or if the Cabinet Memorandum will override all the acts of Parliament.

Mr D Gamede (ANC) wanted to confirm that he was part of the delegation that had visited the President’s private residence and it was difficult to reconcile what had been reported in the media with what had been observed on the ground. It was distasteful to see people intentionally damaging the reputation of the country by exaggerating the security features that had been installed in Nkandla. The security of the President had been hugely compromised, and it was absurd that Members had been trying to score political points at the expense of the President. The Minster’s report managed to throw some light, especially, on the matters of the swimming pool, cattle kraal and visitors’ centre. The barracks were clearly not part of the President’s private residence as there were separate cost centres that were used for these. He agreed with the majority of Members that whoever was responsible for the mess in Nkandla should “face the music” as there was no value for money in all the security upgrades. However, this could not be ascribed to the President as the officials were the ones who should be held accountable. The media needed to prioritise fair and accurate reporting, as most of the inaccurate information on the security upgrades had come from the media.

Ms T Mahambehlala (ANC) mentioned that the visit to the President’s private residence was an eye opener but she had found it disheartening as South Africans had been misled and this was not clear if this was done deliberately or not. The visitors' centre was not as opulent as it had been described in the media and it was mortifying to observe that this centre in Nkandla was in a very poor state. It must be stated outright that the President was not secured and this opened up the vulnerability of the President to “vultures”. It was impossible to refer to what had been observed in Nkandla as a helipad as it was little more than a cricket pitch. Members had become worked up in saying that the President needed to pay back the portion of the money that had been used for the security upgrades although as it was still difficult to establish what were the security upgrades that needed to be reimbursed. Everyone who had been to Nkandla would admit that there was no amphitheatre in Nkandla as this was an assembly area in case of emergency. The Committee needed to state upfront that the family kraal was still where it was located before the security upgrades, and it was the security experts and not the President that had requested the relocation of the cattle kraal.

Ms Mahambehlala said that it was made clear that the building next to the swimming pool was also in existence even before the installation of the security upgrades. This house could either be demolished or the President could buy the building from his own pocket. Members needed to reflect on what had been observed during the visit in Nkandla. Everybody was afforded an opportunity to ask as many questions as possible without any embargo. It was disappointing to see that someone in the highest position, such as the Public Protector, had misled the nation by claiming that the President had unduly benefited from the security upgrades at his private residence, as this was untrue.

Dr C Mulder (FF+) interrupted and said it was unacceptable and unconstitutional for Ms Mahambehlala to slander the Public Protector.

The Chairperson corrected that it was her opinion and any Member should be allowed to freely express their opinions.

Ms Mahambehlala retorted that the Public Protector’s report had indeed misled the nation and tarnished the image of the ruling pParty and that of the President, and there was nothing unconstitutional about that. The previous presidents had been afforded an opportunity to be secured and safe and it was unfortunate that President Zuma had not been afforded such opportunity. The Committee needed to be firm and call on all of those officials that were responsible for the shoddy work in Nkandla to be held accountable. The allocation of the 21 houses should be done speedily as this was an aspect of the security features.

Mr Selfe said that Ms Mahambehlala had breached Rule 66 of the House by saying that the Public Protector had misled the nation.

The Chairperson said that this was not a sitting of the House, but a Committee meeting.

Mr Selfe maintained that the same rules applied to the sitting of the House and the Committee meetings and therefore the Member should apologise.

The Chairperson added that the priority of the meeting was not to expurgate the opinion of Members but to allow the free flow of ideas, but promised to look into the matter of the opinion that had been expressed by Ms Mahambehlala. 

Dr Mulder said that the whole issue at Nkandla was a mess and most Members were particularly shocked and appalled as there was no value to be seen for the R246 million that had been spent on the security upgrades. However, it was important to know if those Members would have expressed such shock if there was value for the R246 million that had been spent solely on the security upgrades of the President. It must be stated outright that every structure that had been erected in Nkandla was done precisely because of President Zuma and its proximity to the President’s private residence or facilities. He wanted to know about the r
elationship between Ingonyama Trust and the SAPS? He asked if the Cabinet had adopted the Minister’s report in its entirety before it was presented to the Committee. He also queried if it was possible that a Cabinet Memorandum could supercede or override an Act of Parliament? Finally he wanted to know if it was possible to register a bond on the Ingonyama Trust land?

Dr Mulder suggested that the scope of the Committee needed to be extended in order to get to the bottom of the problem in Nkandla. This could be done by inviting relevant people to the Committee and recommend what needed to be done. It was incorrect to suggest that the security of the President had been compromised, as it was explained to Members that SAPS had other measures to ensure the security of the President. It was unacceptable for the President to say simply that he did not know about everything that was happening in Nkandla, because the upgrades were visible to the house of the President. He felt that the Committee had two options. The one was to adopt the Minister’s report – which Dr Mulder would not accede to. The second was to keep investigating to get to the bottom of what exactly went wrong in the security upgrades at Nkandla. Most of the Members here were trying to defend the President by saying he was not liable for the inflated costs in the security upgrades of Nkandla.  

Ms C September (ANC) indicated that there was a broad agreement by Members that there was no amphitheatre in Nkandla. It would be important to know what the legislation said with regard to the issue of the swimming pool, so as to avoid any confusion on the correct word and purpose of the “swimming pool” or “firepool”. It was of concern that the fire fighting equipment was not always on standby and it would take about an hour to get to the venue in case of fire emergency. It would be important for Members to differentiate between physical security and what security was as a whole;  physical security is mainly focused on security of an individual or the property from danger or any possible threat. She agreed with Members that the security of the President and his property had been compromised, and this could be a possible threat to the country. Everyone was equally shocked about the disjuncture between what had been reported in the media and the reality that was observed in Nkandla, especially the fact that the security features had been exaggerated. 

Prof N Khubisa (NFP) commented that a lot of taxpayers' money had been squandered lavishly in the security upgrades of the President's residence. It was concerning to hear that there would be a need for an additional R31 million to be used for the security upgrades despite the fact that shoddy work had already been done, and it would be helpful to recover the money from the contractors that were hired. The introduction of Mr Makhanya had led to the whole mess in Nkandla, as it was mentioned that he ended getting into the terrain of procurement and there was a conflict of interests. There was no doubt that funds had been embezzled. It was still difficult to say why a swimming pool was built instead of a reservoir. It was safe to say that there was no amphitheatre in Nkandla, as the structure that had been referred as an amphitheatre was too small, but it was of concern that now the description for the purpose of the structure had been changed to say it was a place of assembly during an emergency. The extension of the kraal was another thorny issue as it called into question whether this kraal was to be used for religious purposes or a sacred place, and it was said that it cost R1 million, although the structure of the kraal looked as if it had cost R5 000.

Prof Khubisa indicated that he agreed that disciplinary actions needed to be taken. The Public Protector’s report had said that there should be remedial actions taken, and it was just unacceptable for those recommendations to be disregarded. It was disappointing that the DPW had said that the SAPS and SANDF should take a decision on the 21 houses that had been built in Nkandla as it seemed that nobody was prepared to accept accountablility. The lives of the people in the surrounding areas in Nkandla needed to be improved, as the money that had been spent for security upgrades happened in a context of massive poverty around Nkandla.

Ms L Maseko (ANC) agreed that the nation had been misled into believing that R246 million had been used for the security upgrades at the homestead of the President and Members were shocked at how the safety of the President had been compromised. There was a general consensus that there was no visible amphitheatre at the homestead of the President and what had been referred as the double storey visitors' centre was just a small structure that was not even fit to accept state officials. It was shocking to see that both the football pitch and the tennis court were far away from the private residence of the President as these two had often been linked to the security upgrades. The clinic and the barracks were not part of the security upgrades. It must be correctly noted that the President had built his own homestead and the matter that was discussed now was only in relation to the security upgrades. It was the laziness of the DPW in not appointing the right person to be responsible for the project management that led to the problem. She also pointed out that members of the public would be allowed to use the clinic, as there was an entrance that was on the side of the community lands.

Ms Maseko stated that the President was the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of Economic Development before he even became the Deputy President and eventually the President and therefore he was entitled to the VIP protection and security upgrades and protection. It would be useful for Members to remove the R135 million, the R20 million for consultancy fees and the R40 million that had been unaccounted for,  and then revalue the R50.5 million that had been used for the security upgrades. This was an exaggeration of the reality that was on the ground. There was an overwhelming agreement from Members that those who were responsible for shoddy work at Nkandla should face the full force of the law. It was unclear if the Public Protector had really visited the President’s private residence or if she relied on the photoshopped aerial view of the homestead to reach her conclusion that the President had unduly benefitted from the security upgrades. The findings of the Public Protector were inconsistent with the reality on the ground and it was really confusing that the Public Protector had publicly disputed and rejected the Minster’s report.

The Chairperson said that there were a lot of issues raised and there were some recommendations that were already apparent from Members on the way forward, including the invitation to the Minister of Public Works to address the Committee.

Mr F Beukman (ANC) agreed that there was indeed a general consensus that what had been observed during the visit in Nkandla was totally different to what had been reported in the media. The visitors' centre that had been observed by Members was totally different to what had been described in the report of some of the institutions. The control room still needed to be refurbished and given the necessary security features. The relocation of the kraal was clearly done for security reasons as the kraal was likely to impact on security features to be installed. The technical explanation that had been provided for the building of a swimming pool was also valid, as this was explained and elaborated in the SAPS report. There were a lot of issues that had been discussed and covered by the previous ad hoc Committee, although the opposition parties decided not to take part in that Committee and therefore it was impossible for the Committee to reinvent the wheel. He supported the suggestion that had been made by other Members to invite the Minister of Public Works, and the steps that had been instituted by the SIU in terms of recovering the money that had been lost, and the progress that had been made on the disciplinary actions and in order to ensure that the current residence of the President complied with the relevant prescripts for security.

Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) reminded Members that Nkandla was in a very rural setting, far from Durban. The DPW was an implementing department and therefore was responsible for the building of schools, clinics and hospitals and so forth. The Minister of Police had made it very clear that the security upgrades at the President’s homestead was a huge project, and therefore many of the challenges that were now being experienced could to be that extent be anticipated. were expected. The previous ad hoc Committee had recommended that the Minister of Police needed to look at the National Key Points Act and this was a matter to be covered in the National Infrastructure Bill, which was to be sent out for comments. Members were aware that the Public Protector was a Chapter 9 Institution but her office was not that different from other offices. The Public Protector Act was clear about the limited scope of the Public Protector. She believed that Adv Madonsela had exeeded her scope.

Ms Ngcobo mentioned that there was no visible comfort and security at the security upgrades in Nkandla. The remedial actions that had been recommended by SIU and the Public Protector should have been directed to the DP,W and not the President. It was stated, in the report of the DPW, that the President had obtained permission from the Ingonyama Trust to put in the security upgrades. There was a need to demystify this to the nation and to make it clear that the President was the victim of all the mess in Nkandla, instead of victimising him for the misconduct of the officials.

Adv Breytenbach also supported the suggestion that had been made to call in the Minister of Public Works to explain to the Committee, as there were many issues that had arisen since the visit to the President’s homestead. She hoped that the Minister of Police would also be available during the interrogation of the Minister of DPW, as there were other issues that had arisen in the reports that had been provided to Members. It was clear that a huge amount of taxpayers' money had been poured into a bottomless pit and nothing substantial had been received for it. It was true that the Committee had seemingly been  misled by the Public Protector’s report and this was an opportunity to call her before the Committee to clarify why she had set up her report in the way she had done. The Committee should also invite the Head of the SIU, as there were massive contradictions that had emerged from yesterday;s visit. It was unfair that the President had not been given an opportunity to explain to the Committee why he had continuously said that he did not know about the security upgrades that had been erected at his private residence. 

Adv Breytenbach indicated that reference had been made to correspondence from Senior Superintendent Linde of the SAPS Building and Planning Committee, and particuarly to paragraph 2 of the letter which stated that “ by instruction of the State President, President Zuma, the existing house at Nkandla, currently accommodating SAPS members, must be converted as part of the President’s household.” This instruction had led to the building of the 21 houses that had been looked at yesterday. This again proved that the President was aware of all the security upgrades at his private residence and this was precisely one of the reasons why the President also needed to be called before the Committee.

Mr Swart said that there was general consensus that there was shoddy work done in the security upgrades of the President. However, it was erroneous for there to be a statement out there leading the public  to believe that the President must pay back R246 million. It was very clear that the intention was to recover R135 million, as recommended by the SIU report. However, this did not mean that the President would be liable to pay back the portion of the money that had been used for the security upgrades, and this was obviously in contrast with the Minister’s report. The evidence showed that there was a relatively small amount that needed to be paid by the President. The Public Protector had made it clear that the President did not dispute that he had requested the building of a larger kraal, and he was willing to reimburse the state on the cost to be incurred for that. The Committee would need the Minister of Public Works to talk to the escalation of costs and the shoddy work that had been done. It would then need to speak to the Head of the SIU, to get clarity on the inconsistencies in the recommendations that had been made.

Mr Swart supported the suggestion that the Public Protector, together with the President, should be called before the Committee to explain everything that had been done at Nkandla. The opposition parties were not in any way targeting the President but wanted to ensure that corruption and maladministration was rooted out of the public sector. It must be clarified that the Public Protector’s report was not binding like a court order. He admitted that he had previously wrongly argued that those recommendations were binding. However, this did not mean those recommendations should be ignored. He wished strongly that there could be an agreement across the political parties on the people to be brought before the Committee to account for or clarify the mess that was made at Nkandla, so that Members could move on and deal with more pressing issues in the country.

Dr M Motshekga (ANC) said that every decision to be taken by the Committee would need to be consistent with the law and the Constitution. In terms of section 181 of the Constitution, the Office of the Public Protector was one of the state institutions and had been established to strengthen the constitutional democracy in the country. In addition, the Chapter 9 institutions, including the Office of the Public Protector, were, in terms of section 182 of the Constitution, required to be “independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law”. The Public Protector’s report should not in any way be construed as an instruction to Parliament. Already, the National Assembly (NA) was in place to protect Chapter 9 institutions. It was apparent from the Public Protector’s report that there were gaps that needed to be addressed, and it was pleasing and progressive to see that there was no single Member who had challenged the legality or the technicality of the Minister’s report, with most of the Members only wanting the Minister to fill in some gaps.

Dr Motshekga stated that the adoption of the recommendations of the Public Protector’s report before the oversight visit to Nkandla would have been a major blunder by the Committee as most of the security features that were mentioned in the report were not in place or were exaggerated. Members must respect the doctrine of separation of powers and this meant that all the decisions taken by the courts should be respected by both Parliament and all Chapter 9 institutions, including the Public Protector. The decision that had been taken by the court regarding the Public Protector’s report still required some engagements and the Committee had taken the decision to go to Nkandla precisely so as to engage with the judgement. It was unfortunate to observe that the Public Protector had been interfering with the functioning of Parliament by engaging with the process of Ad Hoc Committee. It was not only the Public Protector's report that had misled the country and the world as a whole, and that had tarnished the image of Parliament, the country and the President. The media had also played its role in peddling incorrect or biased information.

Dr Motshekga highlighted that there was a responsibility to distinguish between the other structures and the Presidential homestead. This had not in fact been done and so the impression that had been created was that the taxpayers' money had been used to build the whole village. The reference to the President’s private residence as “a compound” was also dispersed by the media and this was indeed problematic. There was agreement that there was no visible double storey reception area in Nkandla and it was really unfortunate that the Public Protector had reached such a conclusion. There was never an intention to build an amphitheatre, and the structure was only designed as an assembly point during an emergency or disaster. In relation to the question of a swimming pool, the demonstration that was performed for Members showed that there was a need for a swimming pool in the event of fire and the pumps that had been used showed that the capacity to extinguish fire was not there otherwise and the surrounding areas were too far to intervene in the event of fire.

Dr Motshekga clarified that the house next to the pool existed before the development of the security upgrades and the security experts indicated that there was a problem with the house and the option was to either demolish it or sell it to the President. There was documentary evidence that there were negotiations between the President and the DPW on the decision to be taken regarding the house close to the swimming pool. The kraal was built within an appropriate place for the performance of ritual practices and this was a classical example of an arrangement that would be found in rural areas. Necessity had forced the cattle kraal to be relocated as would have impinged upon the security features. The building of an expensive cattle kraal and the chicken run was not the fault of the President and the taxpayers were “ripped off”. Members therefore needed to deal with people who were responsible for the shoddy work that was done in Nkandla. He supported the suggestion that the Minister of Public Works should be called to account to the Committee. However, he rejected the call for the President to appear before the Committee.

Ms C Coleman (ANC) said that the review of the report by the Minister of Police was clear, and the focus had been that the President was not liable to pay back any money for the installation of the security upgrades, so this should be the focus of Members. A lot of work had been done and this was again attested to by the Minister’s report. There were convergences between the Minister’s report and the other reports that had been conducted by different institutions. It was clear that everyone was appalled about what had been observed in the President’s homestead, as it was the opposite of what had been reported in the media. Shoddy work had been done and there was a complete disregard of the PFMA and procurement process. The clinic was open to the general public and the ballistic windows were only meant to protect the safety of the President. The Minister’s report had preceded other reports that had been conducted by other institutions and the opinion of Members should be based on facts and not biased opinions.

Mr J Steenhuisen (DA) wanted to put it on record that there must not be a false impression that there was a consensus around the Minister’s report, as the report portrayed President Zuma as the victim and most ANC Members here in the Committee had highlighted that the President’s safety had been compromised. He felt that it was clear that President Zuma was very safe, and that taxpayers' money had paid for all safety features that had been installed. He disagreed with the assertion that the cattle kraal in Nkandla was a “normal kraal”, since when Mr Makhanya was interviewed about the cattle kraal (at page 221 of the Public Protector’s report), he advised that “the cattle kraal was done in the same way as was done in England”. Clearly the kraal was totally different to other kraals in the surrounding areas in Nkandla, as it was more advanced and lavish. The reality remained that the money that was spent on the kraal must be reimbursed to the state. The Public Protector had made it clear that the President had requested the extension of the kraal and was willing to reimburse the state.

Mr Steenhuisen wanted to make a correction to the assertion that the 21 houses for the SANDF and SAPS members were not built some 1.5 km away from the homestead, and were only 5 metres apart. He thought the calculation of the distances was an irrational argument to absolve the President from the costs that had been incurred. The President had requested the building of the 21 houses to accommodate the SAPS and SANDF members. This accommodation would not have been required if the security upgrades had not been done for the President's residence. It was disappointing to see that the media and Members of the opposition parties were blamed for using the term “amphitheatre” because the report of the Public Protector had quoted Mr Makhanya himself as using the term “amphitheatre” and highlighting that this feature was also to be used as “an amphitheatre for functions”.  If the swimming pool was designed as a fire-fighting mechanism, then the shape would been completely different, since it would have been larger and in the shape of a rectangle.

Mr Steenhuisen added that it was very easy to turn everything into a security upgrade. He quipped that he could easily say that his own spectacles were security against dust flying into his eyes, while everyone knew the real purposes of those spectacles. This was the same with the “firepool”. He suggested that it was only fair that the Committee should summon the Public Protector as the Minister’s report had contradicted the Public Protector’s report in many details. It was evident that the tactics of the Committee were to shut everything down by not calling all the main players who were not under the control of Luthuli House. The Minister of Police had exposed himself as a potential risk of having conflict of interests, and this was precisely the reason why some Members felt that there was a need to call the Public Protector or the Head of SIU. The issue of Nkandla would continue to be a sore on the South African political psyche, and would bedevil everything that would be done in the NA. The bottom line was that the President had received undue benefits at his private residence, and he should pay back a portion of the money that had been spent at his private residence.

Ms Dlakude appreciated the fact that most Members had been given an opportunity to visit the private residence of the President. It was unfortunate that Mr Steenhuisen was not part of the delegation that had been afforded such opportunity. It was not a sin for President Zuma to decide to reside in Nkandla and therefore it was unfair for him to be mocked for choosing to be located in Nkandla. The mere fact of being elected to the office did not imply that a President should desert the rural areas. The previous ad hoc Committee had dealt with the Public Protector’s report and she also reiterated that it was unfortunate that Members of the opposition parties chose to walk away. What had been presented by the Minister’s report was in line with what had been observed yesterday. There was no visible amphitheatre in Nkandla, as the only thing that was observed was a soil retention wall. The “swimming pool” was meant to extinguish fire as it had been demonstrated. The family kraal was way better than the new cattle kraal that had been built and there was no way that the cattle kraal could cost R1million. The barracks were constructed on the Ingonyama Trust land and it was explained that the DPW had not allocated the 21 houses to the officials, but they were barracks of the state, and not the President.

Ms Dlakude said that it was impossible to assume that we everyone was equal and the President could not be compared to an ordinary citizen, and therefore the President should be protected and safeguarded. It was unfair to blame the President for all the shoddy work that had been done at his own homestead. He had acted swiftly after he had suspected that there was something wrong at his private residence. It was true that all the politicians wanted the public's vote but this should not be done at the expense of misleading the nation. The ANC Members had the responsibility to tell the country the truth and not the lies that had been perpetuated in the media. 

Mr Gamede clarified that it was impossible to refer to the homestead of a man as a “compound”, as this was offensive and denigrating, not in accordance with the African culture. It was now clear enough that the barracks were not part of the security upgrades and this was the matter to be cleared in the media. The Committee should endorse the Minister’s report. He said it would be unfortunate that there could never be a consensus reached with the opposition parties.

Mr Kwankwa stated that it was difficult to divorce the fact that the 21 houses had everything to do with the fact that the President resided there, and therefore it was difficult to separate the R135 million that had been spent on those houses as part and parcel of the whole project. The biggest mistake that had been made in the Minister’s report was that it was confined to a few  issues, without comprehensively looking at the whole project in Nkandla. The SIU report, on page 207, made it very clear that the “firepool”, construction of 20 units, visitors' lounge, VIP parking, air conditioning and relocation of poor households were not part of the security measures. The Minister of Police, however, still maintained that these were part of the security measures. Why would the Minister say that the 21 houses that were built for SANDF and SAPS were not part of the security features? The reason for the removal of the cattle kraal was understandable, but the main issue seemed to hinge on the fact that the President had requested the building of a larger kraal and he was willing to reimburse the state for the cost incurred on that. It was incorrect and unacceptable for Dr Motshekga to create an impression that Members were happy with the Minister’s report, as the mandate of the report was misguided.

Mr Tloumma wanted to make it clear that most of the Members of the opposition parties were raising genuine issues, and this should not be construed as politicking. He also noted that the Members of the Ruling Party wanted to ensure that Members accepted what had been caucused in Luthuli House. There was consensus that most of the things that had been observed in Nkandla were not as lavish as had been portrayed in the media, but this did not mean the opposition was prepared to simply accept the Minister’s report. He suggested that the Committee needed to call Mr Makhanya together with the Minister of Public Works to clarify many of the issues to the Committee. There was a serious doubt if the Minister of Public Works was fit to perform his duties, as most of the issues happened right under his nose. It was of grave concern that the President had not used his power to actually influence the direction of the resources at his homestead. It was unacceptable for the Committee to criticise the Public Protector while she had not been given an opportunity to voice her own side of the story. The Committee had been lenient to President Zuma, as the only logical thing that should have been done was to call for his impeachment.

Ms Kubayi said that it was apparent that some of the Members had not gone through the documents that had been provided. Mr Makhanya was currently appearing before the Pietermaritzburg Court and therefore he was already accounting on the Nkandla matter. It was disappointing that Mr M Maimane (DA) had been recorded as saying that some of the citizens in the informal settlements lived worse than the cattle in Nkandla, and this was again the kind of narration that had been perpetuated in the media. The President had acknowledged that he was aware of the developments and engagements in Nkandla and there was documented evidence for this.

Ms Kubayi said it must be reiterated that there was no visible amphitheatre in Nkandla as it was explained that the structure was a soil retention wall. It was difficult to see how the Public Protector had come to the conclusion that the President had unduly benefited from the security upgrades in Nkandla, as there was no value in the security upgrades that had been installed. It was the priority of the country to ensure that the President was safeguarded and secured against emerging threats like terrorism and extremism, and it was evident that President Zuma was exposed to any possible threat.

Mr Singh said that he had been an MEC for 10 years, and there was a security evaluation that had been done for him for the installation of security measures, although he had in fact declined those measures as he felt that there was no apparent threat to life. The point to be highlighted here was that he felt compelled to acknowledge that he had refused those security measures that had been proposed by SAPS. The Minister’s report was not conclusive, as it only chose to focus on selective matters in respect of the security upgrades. The cattle kraal looked to be ordinary but the money that had been spent was extraordinary, and this was the matter that Members needed to focus on. There was a top secret report which indicated that “in order to curb potential fire hazards due to lack of infrastructure and water that was erratic, a water reservoir was constructed for fire-fighting purposes”. It is quite clear from that report that there was no mention of the” swimming pool” but of “a water reservoir”. He appreciated that the Committee had been provided with the letter from the Minister of Public Works on the disciplinary measures that had been taken to enforce accountability against those who were responsible for the Nkandla matter. There were recommendations that had been made by the previous ad hoc Committee and these recommendations also needed to be followed up in order to know the progress that had been made.

Mr Singh said that there was an overwhelming consensus that the Minister of Police, together with the Minister of Public Works, needed to come before the Committee and clarify some of the issues. He suggested that the Committee should be provided with the documented evidence of the charges that had been preferred against the architect. The Public Protector had been mentioned and vilified for the better part of the meeting, and therefore it would be useful to offer the Public Protector the chance to answer these vilifications and slanders that had been made against her office. 

Prof Khubisa also supported the suggestion that the Minister of Police together with the Minister of Public Works needed to come before the Committee in order to clarify some of the issues. The Public Protector should also be included in the individuals to be called before the Committee, as it was clear that she had been referred into a number of matters that had been discussed. The Nkandla matter started with an estimate of R27 million and then it became clear that the DPW had made poor estimations as the magnitude of the project was not taken into account, and for this reason the SAPS and SANDF had to come in and perform the assessments. It was at that point that the project had escalated to R206 million. The Committee needed to reach a point where the matter would be laid to rest, so as to focus on pressing issues. This did not mean the remedial actions of the Public Protector had to be swept under the carpet. The people who had been involved in the Nkandla project wanted to get rich in a twinkling of an eye and these were the people who should face the wrath of the law.

Mr Ntshayisa indicated that the Minister’s report should be reconciled with what had been observed in Nkandla. There was a consensus that the security measures that had been erected were not worth the money that had been paid, as costs had been escalated. The Committee needed to ensure that the officials who were responsible for the Nkandla matter would be held accountable for all the misappropriations of funds and this would include the recovery of some of the funds that had been embezzled.

Mr Steenhuisen clarified what Mr Maimane had said; namely that more money had been spent on the facilities of the cattle kraal at Nkandla than in informal settlements in the country. The DA was in agreement that the security of the President needed to be prioritised, as appropriate for the Head of State, but what had been contested was the money that had been spent on non-security features. It would be absolutely disingenuous for the Committee to continue with all the processes without calling the Public Protector, as she had been called all sorts of names and she had been even accused of being a liar.

Mr Smith said that the mandate of the Committee was to consider what the security and non-security measures were,and this was the main matter to be taken into consideration. The Public Protector’s report had made it clear that the non-security features included the visitors' centre, amphitheatre, cattle kraal and the chicken run and the swimming pool. These should be the focus of Members. It was disappointing that Members seemed to spend the whole day discussing what had been observed in Nkandla instead of focusing on the limited scope that been given by the NA. Mr Steenhuisen was correct that anything could be defended as a security feature, and therefore it was pointless to argue on issues that fell outside the scope of this Ad Hoc Committee's mandate.

The Chairperson promised that Members would be provided with all the documents that had been requested. He noted that the Minister of Police had shown his willingness to come back before the Committee to clarify the issues that remained unclear. The Committee was no longer focused on the Minister of Police's report only, as there was also an indication to call the Minister of Public Works before the Committee. The Committee had been mandated to report to the NA by 07 August 2015. This was the deadline that needed to be taken into consideration. He wanted to know if all Members supported the suggestion to call both the Minister of Police and Minister of Public Works to brief the Committee and clarify matters that still required clarity.

Dr Mulder supported the suggestion but wanted to put it on record that his support did not imply that those should be the only people to be called before the Committee, as there were other officials that needed to be summoned.

The Chairperson appreciated the indication that all Members supported the suggestion to summon the Minister of Police together with the Minister of Public Works. He urged Members to cooperate and work together to bring the issue of Nkandla to closure. There had already been three Ad Hoc Committees that had been created to deal with matters, and it would be counter-productive to perpetually deal with the same matter.

The meeting was adjourned.  

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