Madonsela hits out at shortcomings in Nkandla report

Mandonsela says the report is full of misstatements, inaccuracies, incomplete information & innuendo.

FILE: Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has hit back at Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko's Nkandla report, saying it's riddled with misstatements, inaccuracies, incomplete information, innuendos and false accusations.

The minister was asked to determine whether all the installations at President Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla were needed for security after Madonsela questioned some of them, including the cattle kraal, amphitheater and fire pool.

Madonsela starts with a diplomatic approach, saying he gave the matter his best and that he applied his mind to the issues at hand.

But then she speaks about the document's shortcoming, saying they are partly due to the fact that the minister is a member of the executive who serves the president.

In the statement she has outlined some of what she says are the inaccuracies in the report as they relate to her report:

* A claim is made in Minister Nhleko's report, which incorrectly states that the Public Protector found that "no public funds was used to build the President's house(s)" (sic). This could not be further from the truth. According to paragraph 10.10.1.1. of the Public Protector's report: "President Zuma told Parliament that his family had built its own houses and the state had not built any for it or benefited them. This was not true. It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the President and his family at his private residence a Visitor's Centre …" This is important because the Visitor's Centre itself is a house, a double story building.

* In another instance, an impression is created in Minister Nhleko's report that the Public Protector found that there was no need for a water source to help in the event a fire broke at the President's residence. This is false. As can be gleaned from paragraph 10.3.2 of the Public Protector's report: "Measures that should never have been implemented as they are neither provided for in the regulatory instruments, particularly the Cabinet Policy of 2003, the Minimum Physical Security Standards and the SAPS Security Evaluation Reports, nor reasonable, as the most cost effective to meet incidental security needs, include … a swimming pool …"

* Minister Nhleko's report further does not indicate the scope of his investigation and timeline. The relevance of these is to indicate what issues where included or excluded in his investigation.

Madonsela adds that she stands by her report.

"As far as the Public Protector understands the Constitution and the law, neither the executive nor the legislature can override the findings of any independent institution established under Chapter 9 of the Constitution, replacing such determinations with their won. This is why the Constitution states in Section 181(2) that "these institutions are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law …" In any event, Minister Nhleko's report does not attempt to review the Public Protector's report. Instead, it makes random and sometimes adverse comments on isolated aspects of the report."

She adds that as the public protector, as the only oversight authority that is legally competent to advise the president on matters of executive ethics, she will write to him to point out the limitations in the minister of police's report, with a view to ensuring that the president is placed in a position to make an informed decision not based on withheld or distorted information.

Lastly, she emphasises that she did not make the rules that she relied upon in investigating the matter in question, the government did.

Key findings announced by Nhleko on the upgrades at Nkandla included the following:

  • The fire-pool and/or swimming pool is a strategic asset useful in firefighting and therefore is a security feature;

  • The animal enclosure which is made of chicken run, kraal and culvert keeps livestock away from the security infrastructure and therefore these features compliment PIDS security fence, MDB Technology and are security imperatives for fence technology to work. And as such it is a security feature;

  • The soil retention wall and/or "ampitheatre" have a clear security purpose as an emergency assembly point for the family and homestead dwellers. Soil retaining wall is critical in holding soil and substrate thereby reinforcing the soil bank carrying the inner road surface. This area is therefore a necessary security feature;

  • The visitors' centre has to cater for the president's distinguished guests' meetings and local constituency meetings. During such meetings privacy and confidentiality is necessary. There are protocol, physical and information security imperatives that should be observed in hosting such meetings. Therefore the visitors' centre in this regard is a security feature.