19 December 2013
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen
At its meeting of 4 December 2013, Cabinet resolved to release to the public the Ministerial Task Team Report on the Security Installation at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla private residence. This media briefing is convened to give effect to that decision.
In October 2012 the Minister of Public Works, Mr. Thulas Nxesi, ordered an investigation into the conduct and management of the security installations at the President’s residence in Nkandla. This was in response to public concern that the cost estimates being mentioned seemed excessive. This is a concern shared by government hence the investigation by the Task Team. The other allegation was that the President had used State resources to build his private residence.
The Task Team submitted its report in January 2013. The report contained details related to security aspects of the installation hence it was decided to classify the report as Top Secret. It was then referred to Parliament for guidance as to what appropriate steps needed to be followed.
The report has been considered and reported upon to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) and thereafter to the Joint Cabinet Committee. After that it was tabled to Cabinet. The content of the report remains as submitted by the Task Team with an exclusion of sensitive security issues such as the nature and location of the bullet proof windows and the safe haven. Ministers are now acting on the decision of Cabinet that the report should be made available to the public.
The report provides a factual account of the security installation. This statement provides a context that will allow for a full understanding of what transpired.
First, it is important to indicate that all sovereign governments have a responsibility to provide security for their Heads of State and their families. Such security is provided at State’s expense. This obligation of sovereign governments is a significant factor in the finding of the investigation.
Parliamentary and Cabinet process that had to be followed as well as security concerns have delayed the obligation to account for public funds. Cabinet has taken this view and resolved to release the report on the investigation that was initiated by the Department of Public Works into the Nkandla security upgrades.
Let us take a step back. The Nkandla security upgrades became necessary when Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma became the President of the Republic in 2009. The state has an obligation to protect the President.
President Zuma lived and continues to live in a homestead he and his family developed in a remote area of rural KwaZulu-Natal. The usual services such as transport, roads, power, water and sanitation that are taken for granted by many urban dwellers simply did not exist. This rural setting posed a security hazard for those charged with safeguarding the President.
The violent history of this area of KwaZulu-Natal, the fact that the Zuma homestead and family members had previously been attacked on three occasions, and the fact that the President has to conduct government functions such as receiving official delegations, holding regular meetings and business consultations from his private residence necessitated major security upgrades in Nkandla.
The requirement to provide security for President, both sitting and retired, remains the responsibility of government. The Ministerial Handbook did not adequately address security around the Head of State, Deputy President and their families hence the Cabinet policy of 2003.
The aforesaid Policy clearly emphasises the obligation of the security cluster departments and that of Public Works in ensuring the implementation of security upgrades at private residences of the President, Deputy President, Former Presidents and Former Deputy Presidents.
There is an established process for undertaking security upgrades. The security cluster departments like Department of Defence and Military Veterans and Department of Police appointed an expert team to conduct security risk assessments.
In addition to security measures such as security systems, security fencing and fire fighting capabilities, the recommendations included the need to provide basic services such as power, water and health facilities. Furthermore, accommodation for security personnel was required to support the necessary security measures.
President Zuma did not ask for security installations. As per normal procedure, SAPS and Department of Defence conducted a security assessment, as per their mandate. As it will be shown in the findings of the Task Team Report, no state funds were used to build the President’s private residence. It is important to understand this process because this is where ultimate responsibility for the upgrade lies. It is the responsibility of the Department of Public Works to implement the recommendations from the security cluster and to manage the costs of the project in line with the Cabinet Policy of 2003. Attempts to lay the responsibility for the upgrade at the door of the President are misdirected.
We have noted that the public discourse has been dominated by questions around certain aspects for which costs have been incurred. I wish to provide the following explanation:
1. Tuck shop
The tuck shop existed long before the President was inaugurated and was located within the 3 ha land of the President. Due to security risks posed by the movement of people from outside the homestead into the high security area, the tuck shop had to be relocated from within the premises and erected at the perimeter of the premises. Since it was the initiative of the State to relocate the tuck shop and not the owner, the State was duty bound to bear the costs of the relocation and its construction at the new location.
2. Relocation of neighbouring families
The neighbouring families had to be relocated as they were identified as a security risk to have them within the high security zone. The rondavels could not remain where they were as there were going to be an obstruction to the fence line and furthermore posed a challenge for the positioning of the surveillance cameras.
3. Retaining wall
A retaining wall which is the so called “amphitheatre” meant for ground protection, is not an amphitheatre but constructed as a structure with steps. It is in excess of 4 meters height, broken down in the form of stepped terraces and curved to give it more structural stability against the earth.
4. Chicken run
A feature known as the chicken run was constructed within the cattle kraal. It was created as a replacement to a number of building block structures that were scattered around some of the main dwellings which were obstructions and potential hiding areas for intruders. The relocation of these loose structures to a dedicated area improved the security on site.
5. Cattle Kraal and Culvert
When the assessments were conducted, as part of security, sensitive electronic equipment was recommended to be installed on the fence. False alarms as well as damage to the fence and electronic equipment could be caused by the cattle. The cattle and people were using the same entrance due to the location of the kraal posing a potential risk in the high security area. As a result, a decision was taken that the cattle kraal be moved to a dedicated area and culvert be erected to prevent the cattle from disturbing and damaging the electronic equipment and the fence.
6. Fire Pool and Water Reservoir
One of the hazards raised by the assessment was the possible outbreak of fire as most of the structures have thatched roofs and are close to each other. In order to eliminate or minimize potential risks and due to water supply which was erratic, a fire pool ‘the so called swimming pool’ was decided on as the most viable option for firefighting.
Secondly water reservoir was constructed for use by both homestead as well as accommodation for security personnel. It was decided based on the advice of the mechanical engineer that a structure which can contain 45 000 litres of water was needed for fresh water in a form of a water storage tank.
7. Visitors’ waiting rooms
Due to the large number of people that visit the President at his private residence, it became a security challenge to control them. Therefore a waiting place was erected to address this security challenge.
That brings me to the role of Public Works and the decision in October 2012 to order an investigation into the Nkandla security upgrade. The following is a summary of the Task Team findings:
- allegations that the President had used state resources to build or upgrade his personal dwellings are unfounded;
- the actual security installation cost approximately R71 million. Approximately R135 million was spent on operational needs and basic facilities and services (e.g. including water, power, accommodation etc.) needed to support the security upgrade for SAPS and Defence personnel.
- there are many supply chain irregularities in relation to the appointment of service providers and procurement of goods and services. For instance, large variation orders and the high percentage spent on consultancy fees point to the possibility of over-pricing and collusion.
Based on the Task Team’s Report the following actions are currently underway:
- I engaged with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Auditor General (AG) for further forensic and criminal investigation.
- President Zuma has signed the proclamation empowering the SIU to institute further investigations.
- The Minister of Public Works has written to the Minister of Police requesting SAPS to investigate any possible criminal acts.
The Minister of Public Works takes full responsibility of this project. Further, the Ministers of Police and Defence and Military Veterans assume responsibility for the operational needs of their respective departments in the project.
In conclusion, the Task Team’s Report presents the factual findings of their investigation. It is important for us to also consider this wider context - both to fully understand the findings and to develop the necessary strategies and controls to ensure value for money and public accountability in the future. The release of this report is therefore in line with our commitment of transparency on matters that are in the public interest. Copies of this report is available from https://www.gov.za/documents/download.php?f=206154.
I thank you.
Nikelwa Tengimfene on 0825745495 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org