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Govt: You’ll see why we stalled Madonsela

Government says South Africans will soon understand why they delayed the Nkandla report.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal which cost more than R200 million to upgrade. Picture: City Press.

PRETORIA - Government says South Africans need to be "educated" about security issues surrounding President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home.

The state believes only then will the public understand why it launched a legal battle against Public Protector Thuli Madonsela over her report on the more than R200 million security upgrade at the homestead.

On Friday, an urgent interdict application launched a week before against Madonsela by ministers in the government's security cluster was formally abandoned and the state agreed to pay all legal costs.

The brief skirmish saw both sides trade damning allegations and veiled insults, leaving unanswered questions around who has the final say on the contents of the report.

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

SOUTH AFRICANS NEED TO BE EDUCATED

By now, Madonsela should have government's feedback on possible security breaches in the report.

How she handles the comments will determine whether ministers in the security cluster will take her back to court or let her release the findings.

Speaking on behalf of the ministers, Mthunzi Mhaga denied allegations that the abandoned interdict application was an avoidable blunder.

"The general public will have to be educated on issues that relate to the head of state. When that's done, I'm sure all of them will understand why we have taken the stance that we have taken."

But he says he doesn't foresee further clashes with the Public Protector.

"We're moving forward. I don't see why there should be issues in dealing with another state institution."

Madonsela says her focus now is to finish the report and make it public.

She also says she hopes her relationship with ministers in the cluster can be restored and that no more taxpayers' money is spent on further legal battles.

Madonsela welcomed the legal costs settlement but remained firm, saying she and her team can't afford to be intimidated.

In court papers releases earlier in the week, Madonsela accused the security cluster ministers of trying to stop her investigations.

They've denied this, questioning her ability to keep an open mind.

Madonsela will now consider security-related representations made by government before announcing her next step.

NEW DETAILS EMERGE

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

A report by Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence revealed Zuma owns just under four hectares at Nkandla while the state acquired another five hectares to build the security features it says were necessary.

While short on specifics, 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 investigate further, but it says he should report back to the committee which meets in secret.

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