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'Public given wrong impression on Nkandla'

The ANC says misleading terminology has created the impression that the president is living in comfort.

FILE: Houses built for security staff near President Jacob Zuma’s private home in rural KwaZulu-Natal today. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN.

PIETERMARITZBURG - African National Congress (ANC) politicians sitting on Parliament's ad hoc committee on Nkandla claim the public have been given the wrong impression about the security upgrades at the president's home.

They said words such as amphitheatre and visitor's center should not have been used to describe two of the features that have formed part of the project to secure Jacob Zuma's property.

The ad-hoc committee is deliberating after an in-loco inspection of Zuma's estate, the cluster of homes for security personnel as well as a clinic on the outskirts of the property.

ANC Member of Parliament (MP) Mmamoloko Kubayi said misleading terminology has created the impression that the president is living in comfort.

"The reception area, I call it a reception area because that's what it is. It's not a visitor's centre."

Her ruling party colleague Vincent Smith said the R135 million spent on building homes for security personnel was not part of the Nkandla security bill.

"The R246 million that has been ascribed to the president's private home is simply not correct."

MPs across the political spectrum agree that too much was spent on the project, despite the underwhelming nature of the features and shoddy workmanship.

DAMNING LETTER

A letter has been made public suggesting Zuma instructed the building of 'bachelor flats' for SAPS members in Nkandla.

It offers a possible explanation as to why 21 houses for security personnel were built on the outskirts of the president's homestead.

To date there has been uncertainty about who authorised the building of those homes which formed part of a project that cost R135 million.

The ANC has been at pains to say the houses are not part of the Nkandla project's security bill.

The damning letter is part of a bundle of declassified documents that were this week handed over to MPs sitting on the ad hoc committee which is looking into the saga.

The 2009 letter, from a senior superintendent to officials from the department of public works, articulates what the president wanted.

The instruction is that a house on Zuma's property which was being used by SAPS members had to be converted as part of his household.

The letter goes on to say that officials had to cater for the needs of those officials and additional bachelor flats had to be added to the needs assessment document previously provided to the department.

The ANC has denied the letter directly links the president to the construction of the barracks, but has been unable to clearly explain what the instruction was all about.