African National Congress National Chairperson Baleka Mbete says she believes that President Jacob Zuma should not pay back a portion of the R246-million used to upgrade his private residence in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbete was addressing the media in Cape Town on Thursday morning.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the security upgrades at Nkandla found, among others, that President Zuma’s family had unduly benefited from the upgrades at his private residence.
Madonsela also recommended that President Zuma should pay back some of the money used to upgrade his homestead. But, Mbete says they disagree with Madonsela’s recommendations. “Thuli says they benefited and therefore President Zuma ought to think of paying some money, we beg to differ very strongly.”
Mbete says Zuma’s family has instead been inconvenienced by the relocation of the cattle kraal and the family’s tuck shop. She also says President Zuma’s first wife MaKhumalo has also been negatively affected.
“MaKhumalo and her feeling about all this attention and all this noise and all the intrusion into their private family space and we are told that no that family unduly benefited. I think that is cynicism of the highest order.”
She says Madonsela’s report and the one released by a government task team were largely similar in context. They both found that President Zuma did mislead Parliament.
Mbete says she agrees that the escalating costs of the Nkandla upgrade should be investigated. “We think that the report of the SIU must come out, to tell us further details of where things went wrong, we agree it is horrendous that so much money was paid from tax payers’ money, do we agree that President Zuma instructed that, no we do not agree and no amount of screaming that President Zuma stole money will make it so.”
Mbete also dismissed claims that the ANC in Parliament was stalling the establishment of a parliamentary Ad Hoc committee to look into the Public Protector’s Report on Nkandla and President Zuma’s response, which was submitted to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
The ANC has until Wednesday next week to submit the names of its seven MPs who will sit on the envisaged 12 member Ad Hoc Committee, which must report back to Parliament by April 30th.