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Nkandla: Govt got what it wanted

Nathi Mthethwa says govt got what it wanted by taking Thuli Madonsela to court.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the ministerial security cluster achieved exactly "what it wanted" by taking Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to court over the Nkandla report.

In a surprise twist yesterday, government abandoned its legal bid to stop Madonsela from releasing the preliminary findings of her investigation.

Madonsela's report details her findings into the R206 million upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private home in KwaZulu-Natal.

The interdict hearing was expected to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria today, but the only issue that will now be argued is who will pay the legal costs.

Mthethwa has described today's proceedings as just an "academic" exercise.

"To continue with it won't serve any purpose because in a way we got what we wanted."

Both sides have declared victory.

The security cluster ministers say through the courts, they were given the time they needed to finish responding to the Nkandla report.

Madonsela says the abandoned interdict application recognises the autonomy and independence of her office.

But during the brief skirmish, both parties also made damning allegations against each other.

Madonsela accused the ministers of trying to shut down her investigation while they questioned her ability to, as they put it, 'keep an open mind'.

A law expert says the power struggle over who has the final say on security breaches has also not been resolved.

Madonsela says she can now focus on finishing her report.

Meanwhile, government has described the now-abandoned legal battle over the Nkandla report as "unfortunate" and has admitted it was unsettling for the nation.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said the whole issue could've been avoided.

"It unsettled the country unnecessarily. It's a matter that could have been resolved."

'REPORT A WHITEWASH'

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko says the security cluster's decision to approach the courts regarding the Nkandla report was improper.

Mazibuko says the security cluster tried to control Madonsela even though they had no grounds to do so.

"The public protector and her office are protected by the constitution. They are only accountable to the constitution and the law and they report to Parliament. No minister can interfere in their work. No member of government has any responsibility for them. What effectively happened is that the ministers tried to use the courts to create for themselves a power they didn't have over her."

Madonsela says the whole court application was politically driven.

"It's completely improper, totally unconstitutional and deeply problematic because it is entirely driven by politics. There are no security concerns at all as the fact that they dropped this shows. It's clear to me that this is entirely a political exercise."

More details regarding the Nkandla spending emerged when Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence tabled its report in Parliament on Thursday.

The committee was given the government task team's top secret report that probed Nkandla in June.

The African National Congress (ANC) said the committee did good work after revealing new details about the upgrades.

But the DA blasted the committe's report as a whitewash designed to let Zuma off the hook.

The report revealed that 52 percent of the budget was spent on the state-owned land while around R50 million was spent on Zuma's personal property and another R50 million went on consultancy fees.

Mazibuko says the joint committee's report is a complete whitewash.

"That report from the Public Works Department was taken to that committee to be buried. The committee did exactly what the minister wanted which was to say the security upgrades were necessary and it's absolutely fine and actually only problem is that some of the people who were on site didn't have the necessary security clears."

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