Nkandla is a holy space: Mbete
Some of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remarks about President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home amounted to interference, ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete said on Thursday.
"A lot was clarified, in fact, by Thuli's report. She then goes on to say a few things which, in our view, are actually debatable because in the African tradition you don't interfere with a man's kraal," she told reporters in Cape Town.
"The issue of a man's kraal or a kraal of a family is a holy space."
She said security experts had looked at his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal home from a security perspective and shifted it in such a way that did not benefit the family.
"And Thuli says: 'No, they benefited and therefore President Zuma ought to think of paying some money'. We beg to differ very strongly, very, very strongly."
The tuckshop of Zuma's first wife, Ma Khumalo, had to be moved from where it had been for many years to an inconvenient spot far away because of security considerations.
Mbete questioned how this could have benefited the family.
"It's a longer distance that she now has to walk. It's a tinier space and those who have seen it say it doesn't look like a five-star shop or anything."
She said visitors to Nkandla had noted Ma Khumalo's negative feelings about the "attention, noise and intrusion into their private family space".
Madonsela released her final report on the security upgrades totalling R246 million last month.
She found that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from the upgrades, and said Zuma should pay back a portion of the cost.
Mbete said Madonsela's report and a report released by a government task team were largely similar in context and that Zuma was found to have not lied to Parliament.
The ANC agreed, however, that the escalating cost of Nkandla had to be probed.
"We agree that is an issue which needs to be probed because there is too much of this culture in government in general, especially in the work of public works, of inflation of prices," Mbete said.
"We agree it's horrendous that so much money was paid from taxpayers' money. Do we agree that President Zuma instructed that that should happen? No, we don't agree."
She asked the public to "calm down" until the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had released its report on the matter because it would reveal who was responsible.
National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu announced last week that an ad hoc Parliamentary committee on Nkandla would be set up.
Its mandate is to consider Zuma's response to Madonsela's report and make recommendations, where applicable.
Zuma reacted to Madonsela's report earlier this month, saying he would give a substantive response once the SIU had completed its probe.
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