Nkandla ‘shortest item’ on ANC NEC agenda

The ANC’s National Executive Committee says Nkandla wasn’t a major topic at its weekend meeting.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee says Nkandla wasn’t a major topic at its weekend meeting. Picture: City Press.

JOHANNESBURG - The ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) says it only briefly discussed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on Nkandla during its gathering in Cape Town over the weekend.

Speaking at Luthuli House this afternoon, the party's Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe briefed the media on the outcomes of meeting.

Gwede Mantashe addresses the media at Luthuli House. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN.

He says although the media expected the NEC to spend all weekend talking about Nkandla, the report was actually the shortest item on its agenda.

Earlier this month, Madonsela released her damning report into how a quarter of a billion rand had been spent on President Jacob Zuma's private home in KwaZulu-Natal.

She found Zuma violated the executive ethics code by failing to protect the public purse and recommended that he account to Parliament by Wednesday, as well as pay back some of the R250 million.

Video: Thuli Madonsela releases her finalised Nkandla report.

However, speaking during a campaign event this weekend, the president said he'd done nothing wrong and didn't owe anyone any money.

Zuma said he never asked for any upgrades and therefore should not have to repay anything.

Mantashe wouldn't be drawn on whether he thought the president would pay any money back, saying the NEC didn't want to interfere ahead of Wednesday's deadline.

He also argued that the report was about the Nkandla project itself and not the president.

He said the ruling party had not lost any confidence in its leader, reminding the media that Zuma was the "face of the ANC" during the election campaign.

ANC & ZUMA MISREAD MOOD OF THE NATION

Meanwhile, the Centre for Politics and Research's Prince Mashele says the ANC and Zuma have not handled their response properly in the wake of the report.

He says the president's comments on Sunday demonstrated that he has "no respect for public institutions".

Mashele says Zuma's decision to break his silence yesterday also signalled the level of support he received at this weekend's gathering of the ANC's top leaders.

But that support is not as strong on the ground, he says. Not all South Africans write letters to newspapers or call radio stations, argues Mashele, but that didn't mean the Nkandla scandal is "inconsequential noise by the middle-class".

Mashele explains, "I think that the ANC's completely misreading the mood of the nation. I mean, if you go to villages, people are worried about Nkandla."

At the briefing, Mantashe rejected the suggestion the ANC misread the mood of the nation.

He accused the media of being too focussed on the Nkandla saga.