Zuma dismisses lying about Nkandla during chaotic Parli Q&A

BY CHARL BOSCH - MAY 17, 2016

President Jacob Zuma has denied allegations he lied to South Africans about the controversial R246-million security upgrades at his private Nkandla homestead.

Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday during a questions and answers session, Zuma, reacting to a question by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane that he should produce evidence that the built was paid for using a bond as claimed in his statement four years ago, maintained it took affect while he was still Deputy President, and that he himself ordered the building of the house and not government.

“I did not lie… your question is deliberately phrased in a manner that clouds the real situation. When I answered the question in this Parliament, I said the family built our house, not government. Listen so that I don’t repeat it,” Zuma said.

“By the time I became President, the buildings were up; the first one at roof level, the second one at window level and the foundation of the third was rising. As soon as I became President, government came with a plan based on the old homestead before it was extended”.

Zuma said he initially did not have confidence in the drawn-up plan as it was not keeping-in with the size of the proposed extensions, but that “those responsible” later came up with the landscaping.

“The Constitutional Court has not said I lied when I said the family built the house. The Public Protector has not said so. There were items counted by the Public Protector who did not say they were part of the house being built,” he continued.

“These were the kraal, chicken run, swimming pool, waiting room and amphitheatre. They are not talking about houses. There are five issues the Public Protector said was built by government and which my family and I indirectly benefitted from,” Zuma said as opposition MP’s burst out laughing with some chanting firepool in reference to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s controversial Nkandla report.

He added that it was wrong of Maimane to assume that Nkandla was built solely by government, as he was paying bond as part of the first phase with his family paying the second.

“I have never said I built the five items that the Constitutional Court talks about, that was built by government. The Constitutional Court and Public Protector said the family benefited on what the government built indirectly, and there must be a reasonable amount to be paid. That's a true story,” a defiant Zuma stated as DA MP’s heckling.

“I am telling you and the people of South Africa, I never lied, and the Constitutional Court and Public Protector never lied”.

Earlier, Zuma also took aim at DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen, who had referred to him as joke for not accurately answering a question by the party’s Shadow Minister for Justice, Glynnis Breytenbach, on when he intends to apologise for undermining the authority of the judiciary.

“If I am joke, you must laugh. Why are you not laughing?” Zuma said to angry finger pointing from Steenhuisen and ongoing heckling from other DA members.  

He also shrugged off a question by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Themba Msimang on whether the Public Protector should investigate business dealings with controversial Gupta family, saying “I have no idea about the business ventures of the Guptas, so why should I have a view? It is none of my business”.

The just over two hour sitting turned ugly minutes after starting when members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), objecting to Zuma addressing the National Assembly, were removed by Parliamentary Security while hurling their hard hats and water bottles in defence.

EFF leader Julius Malema has meanwhile vowed that the party would continue not to recognise Zuma as President, as well as being prepared to fight in defence of the Constitution regardless if it infringes on the image of Parliament or not.

“We cannot be led by a man who has failed to uphold, defend and protect the constitution. We are not scared… we will fight with everything we have,” Malema told the media outside Parliament.