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More Nkandla controversy emerges

The DA is trying to determine whether government is paying for electricity at Nkandla.

A new controversy over spending at President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence has emerged, this time over electricity costs. Picture: City Press.

JOHANNESBURG - With Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla report expected to be released this month, a new controversy over spending at President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence has erupted, this time over electricity costs.

Madonsela has been investigating how over R200 million was spent on upgrades at Zuma's Nkandla home and she is set to make her findings public within the next few weeks.

The Department of Public Works is being pushed in Parliament to answer questions about how much money is being spent on electricity at Nkandla.

The Democratic Alliance says it has received parliamentary answers which suggest government is picking up the bill, but is claiming the costs are security related.

The opposition party has vowed to resubmit a fresh round of questions to get the exact details.

Late last year, government made public the findings of its own report into the Nkandla spending which cleared Zuma of any wrongdoing, but found numerous irregularities.

It remains to be seen whether security concerns over Madonsela's report will be resolved in time for her to release her findings this month.

GOVT VS MADONSELA

Government's findings on Nkandla are in direct contrast to those contained in a leaked draft of Madonsela's report.

The protector's interim report, with the working title 'Opulence on a grand scale', was published in the Mail & Guardian in November.

The provisional document found that President Zuma received "substantial personal benefit" from upgrades which exceeded his security requirements.

It called for the president to pay back some of the R208 million spent on upgrades.

The draft document also called on him to account to Parliament.

Madonsela's report raised serious questions about the architect, who was in constant contact with the president during renovations.

According to a government report on the issue released on 19 December, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi says there was no truth to allegations that Zuma abused state resources.

The report, which was compiled a year ago, did find there was overcharging and collusion between companies involved in the upgrades.

Furthermore, the document claims Zuma did not ask for the upgrades and had no idea how much they cost.

The minister says the Auditor General's office and the Special Investigating Unit will now carry out forensic probes into tender and contract irregularities.

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