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Madiba, Mbeki got far less than Zuma

Oct 07 2012 11:10 Adriaan Basson, Carien du Plessis, Jeanne van der Merwe and Thanduxolo Jika

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Johannesburg - The security ­upgrades to the ­private homes of former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki cost significantly less than the upgrades to President Jacob ­Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

As questions mount about the R238m state splurge on Nkandla, it has emerged that the public works department ­budgeted R28.2m for security upgrades to Mandela’s Qunu home in the Eastern Cape.

Mbeki received a R3.5m security upgrade to his private house when he left office.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has confirmed that she is ­investigating the state’s spend on Nkandla.

“Yes, an investigation is under way,” she said yesterday.

Zuma is under fire after City Press revealed last week that the department of public works had spent more than R200m of taxpayers’ money on upgrading his compound in KwaZulu-Natal.

Madonsela’s probe comes at a time when Zuma is campaigning to be re-elected as ANC president in December.

City Press has established that:

» The upgrade of Nkandla was estimated to cost the state R6.4m in August 2010, which means government’s expenditure on Zuma’s private residence increased by 3 600% over two years; and

» Zuma is not alone in benefiting from lavish home upgrades at taxpayers’ expense in a R1 billion splurge that will see Cabinet members and other leaders awash in luxury.

Madonsela said her office ­started taking steps to investigate because of a complaint lodged with her office a few months ago. DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko lodged another complaint this week.

“Because of our resource constraints, the investigation hasn’t gone further than contacting the presidency,” Madonsela said.

“We are asking the presidency who makes what decisions and who is accountable. This ­involves more than just Public Works.”

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi mounted a spirited defence of the Nkandla spending on Friday, saying the state had done the same for its former presidents.

But the security upgrades at the private residences of former presidents FW de Klerk, Mandela and Mbeki have been far more modest (see Page 4).

City Press has obtained a parliamentary answer by former public works minister Geoff Doidge from August 2010, in which he said the Nkandla upgrade would cost R6.4m.

R5.7m was budgeted for professional fees and R700 000 for the “relocation of families, site establishment and construction of bypass roads”.

But a document handed to Parliament in May this year shows that R194m had been paid to contractors on the project and R44m to consultants.

The document was handed to Parliament in a briefing by Public Works’ acting director-general, Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie, and spells out details of much of the spending in the controversial “prestige portfolio” programme.

At Friday’s press conference, Fatyela-Lindie claimed the document didn’t exist.

But it took City Press mere minutes to locate it – and it lifts the lid on details of spending that go further than ­Zuma’s Nkandla compound.

In one project, more than R100m is due to be spent on a single “new VIP residence” in the ministerial complex of Bryntirion in Pretoria. It is not clear who will use it.

The document reveals that ­total upgrades worth R981.2m are in the works at Bryntirion, which houses most Cabinet members and their deputies’ official residences, as well as Zuma’s official state-owned residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu.

The expenses on Bryntirion include a new perimeter wall, guard houses, dog kennels, entrance roads, a new storm water and sewage system, and gates.

Other projects include:

» R191m on the third phase of an upgrade to Mahlamba Ndlopfu;

» A R51.9m security ­upgrade on the Bryntirion estate; and

» R50.4m on an “executive health facility”.

At Fernwood in Cape Town, where most ministers reside when in Cape Town, Public Works planned to spend R403m on 17 new houses – or R23.7m per house.

Upgrades of R13.7m were in the pipeline for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s official Bryntirion residence, Oliver Tambo House.

On Friday, Nxesi claimed that expenditure on Zuma was not limited to the Ministerial ­Handbook, which caps security upgrades at R100 000.

“There is a clause there that says there must be security measures which are done by state ­security, and those who do the ­assessment instruct us and we comply,” Nxesi said.

Asked about the other projects listed in the presentation to Parliament, Fatyela-Lindie said expenditure on all prestige projects were confidential matters of national security and she wouldn’t divulge or discuss costs involved.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Nkandla and nine other residences of current and former presidents had been declared national key points in April 2010.

The prestige portfolio is currently the focus of a Special Investigating Unit probe.

A Public Works insider said the programme was notorious for circumventing procurement rules and not putting work out to tender, by using “urgency” and “emergency” provisions. - City Press

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