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Madonsela: I can now get back to work

In a surprise twist, govt dropped its legal bid to stop Madonsela from releasing her Nkandla report.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says with the interdict battle with government avoided, she will now focus on finishing her Nkandla report.

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

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

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.

On Wednesday, Madonsela made public her court documents which opposed the interdict and revealed the extent to which her Nkandla investigation was allegedly obstructed by government in a stinging 24-page affidavit.

In legal documents filed on Thursday, government said all it wanted was an extension to offer what it called comprehensive comments on the protector's interim report.

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'll announce a new timeline for the release of her report in due course.

To read the replying affidavit from the security cluster, click here.

Meanwhile, new details have emerged about the upgrades to the president's Nkandla home.

They are contained in a report by Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.

In June, the multi-party committee was asked to consider the report of the probe into the Nkandla spending carried out by a government task team.

The committee's report was tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday.

The report reveals Zuma owns just under four hectares at Nkandla while the state acquired another five to build the security features it insists are necessary.

While short on details, the report breaks down the R206 million costs.

It says 52 percent was spent on state-owned land while around R50 million was spent on Zuma's personal property.

Another R50 million went to consultancy fees.

The report also questions the need for what it calls parallel investigations and suggests the law be changed to prevent them in future.

It justifies the classification of the government's report as top secret and recommends the Auditor General investigates further, but it says he should report back to the committee which meets in secret.

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