Mantashe and EFF blasts Nhleko’s “more Nkandla money” remark

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 6, 2015

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, has hit out at Police Minister Nathi Nhleko in a weekend CityPress article, following his comment that more money should be spent on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

Addressing the media in Pretoria last Tuesday, Nhleko stated that the various investigations into the R246-million security upgrades had comprised Zuma’s safety, and that a re-evaluation is needed for additional protection as well as the finishing of certain features left uncompleted.

“Now that you know that there is a thing PTZ [pan tilt zoom camera] and PIDS [perimeter intrusion detection system] and motion detectors and where they are located and so forth, if you want to do something [to the president], now you supposedly can,” Nhleko said.

In tabling his findings on the upgrades two months ago, Nhleko indicated that Zuma could not be expected to pay back a portion of the money as per Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Secure in Comfort report, as the additions of a private cinema, cattle kraal, chicken coup and swimming pool, dubbed fire pool, were essential safety tools.

“The report I produced has everything to do with resolutions of Parliament and everyone is at liberty to see it in any way he or she sees fit. If you disagree that's fine - I accept that but then get into the detail and content of what I put across,” he said, adding that anyone not in line with his report should provide proof.

Speaking in an interview with the paper, Mantashe said the controversy would lapse when Zuma leaves office before blasting Nhleko’s comment as “reckless”.

“To me, if Nhleko says we will spend more money, and leaves it at that, I think that is reckless in the first place. That is my view,” he said.

“What does ‘more money’ mean in real terms? I don’t know whether you are going to construct something new or are maintaining something already there. When [Public Works Minister] Thulas [Nxesi] and Nathi [Nhleko] sit there, they sit there as ministers of state and must be interrogated. Leaving that aside, they are members of the ANC”.

Asked about a solution, Mantashe stated that asking Zuma to pay back the money would be sign of confessing to be at fault.

“That will never be a solution. Once we come to the end of the term and Zuma goes, Nkandla will be closed. But there will be a new narrative for whoever becomes the president of the ANC – because the [agenda] is to discredit, delegitimise, weaken and destroy the ANC”.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, has meanwhile described Nhleko’s comments as “desperate” and that his defence of Nkandla amounted to a collection of “pathological lies”.

“The Minister has lied about cattle kraals and chicken runs being “security features”. He has lied about the total cost of security features in Nkandla being less than they actually are. He has lied about the Public Protector not finding that government built any houses for President Zuma and his family.

“He has lied about not knowing why and who approved the construction of the village consisting of 21 three-bedroomed houses at the Nkandla compound at an over-inflated cost of R6.5 million each. The Minister has committed his office and the police ministry to pathological lies and the defence of corruption instead of upholding the rule of law and ensuring that crooks like President Zuma are brought to book,” Ndlozi said.

Referring to his request for more money, Ndlozi stated,” Nhleko has arrogantly reported that “more money” still needs to be spent in Nkandla on imaginary security features. We condemn this brazen abuse of public funds for the indulgence of one man on whom we are already wasting spending obscene amount of money”.

Ndlozi also took a swipe at Mantashe’s comments, labeling it “delusional” before repeating that the party would continue to demand that Zuma pay back the money.

“Wherever Zuma appears in the presence of the EFF, be it in public places or in Parliament, he shall be asked to pay back the money,” he said.