19 March 2014
Government welcomes the release of the final report by the Public Protector into the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private residence at Nkandla. Government will reflect on the findings and recommendations contained therein with a view to determining a way forward very soon.
It is important to reiterate critical issues in relation to this matter. Government respects the rule of law and abides by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The office of the Public Protector derives its mandate from Section 182 (1) of the Constitution to investigate any alleged improper conduct by any public institution, spheres of government and/or public representatives. In terms of the same Constitution and supporting legislation, government has its own distinct responsibilities and obligations to prevent and address maladministration. This is fundamental to our democracy in terms of which government is held accountable.
Government has throughout this process respected the Public Protector’s right to investigate this matter – like any other issue that is referred to the Office of the Public Protector – but government has also maintained its own right and obligation to investigate issues unfolding in public administration. Chapter 11 of the Constitution establishes the security services of the Republic and provides for their mandate, roles and function with supporting legislation
The Ministers of Public Works, Police and Defence have taken full accountability and responsibility for this project and through the government investigation have unearthed issues of corruption and maladministration involved in this project. It is now common cause that there was no political interference in the execution of the project and its own investigation by the office of the Public Protector. Furthermore the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) is seized with this matter with a view to bring to book those in the public and private sector who are implicated in wrong doing.
The Public Protector’s report confirms the essential findings of the government investigations into this project. These include the following:
The Cabinet Policy of 2003 is the applicable authority which provides for security measures for serving and former Presidents and Deputy Presidents and their families whose financial limit is not capped.
We note as well as welcome that the report is categorical in stating that no public funds were used in building the private residence of the President. We further note and welcome that the project was poorly managed and we also welcome the finding that there was no political interference.
Execution of the project
It is once more a trite fact that in the execution of the project, there were elements of maladministration, corruption and inefficiencies highlighted by both the investigations of the Public Protector and that of government. These include inter alia the flaunting of supply chain management prescripts, Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), Cabinet Policy of 2003 and collusion between officials and suppliers, resulting in inflation of prices.
It is important to note that President Zuma and his family began renovating their residence at their own cost in 2008. This is in line with the response of the President in Parliament for which he has raised a bond. Immediately after President Zuma’s inauguration in May 2009, the Security Services conducted an assessment and instructed the Department of Public Works to oversee implementation of the security recommendations.
The government reiterates its position that all measures that were recommended by the Security Cluster and implemented by the DPW in the President’s private residence were security upgrades that were necessary for the security of the President. The retaining wall, cattle kraal and culvert, fire pool and water reservoir, accommodation for security personnel and visitors waiting area are all essential security features which ensures physical security and effective operation of security equipment. These are critical in the delivery of security services to the President timeously.
PROGRESS ON INTERVENTIONS
Driven by its commitment to eradicate corruption, maladministration and inefficiencies government has taken a number of measures related to the Nkandla matter.
The following progress is noteworthy:
1. President Zuma signed a proclamation for the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to investigate any acts of criminality committed during the implementation of the security upgrades at Nkandla. The SIU investigation is at an advanced stage and a report is expected soon. This report will form the basis for disciplinary action and/or criminal charges against implicated individuals. The report will be forwarded to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecutorial consideration.
2. The Department of Public Works has developed a revised policy of norms and standards for management and control of particular Prestige Projects. It closes loopholes that were identified by the government investigation reports such as approval systems, financial delegations and tightens controls on supply chain processes. Further to this policy, the financial delegations to regional officials in Prestige Projects have since been withdrawn.
3. The Department of Public Works has finalised the cost apportionment of the project for recovery of funds from South African Police Services (SAPS) and Department of Defence (DOD).
4. The Department of Defence has set up a Board of Enquiry to investigate any irregularities that may have been committed during this project.
5. The Ingonyama lease agreement was long signed even before the release of the government report.
Government has adopted a turnaround strategy to deal with the endemic and systemic, malaise in DPW, to which, this project has fallen victim.
The release of the Public Protector report will afford government the opportunity to determine the extent to which its findings and those of the government report are congruent and we will obviously follow due and rigorous process and as indicated earlier that these findings are already being actioned by government, as such, any additional findings by Public Protector will be actioned within the same processes. We re-affirm our aggressive stance that law enforcement agencies should leave no stone unturned in its investigative process which is at an advanced stage.
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Issued by Government Communication and Information System