South Africa’s government is reviewing a report which claims President Jacob Zuma “unduly” benefited from a $23 million publicly-funded security upgrade to his Nkandla home, according to presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj.
“The president has been consistently concerned about alleged impropriety around the procurement of the Nkandla [Mr. Zuma’s home] project, and for this reason, the president had appointed a government Inter-Ministerial Task Team whose report has been made public, and it has been presented to parliament," Maharaj told VOA.
Zuma directed a Special Investigative Unit last December to probe the allegations of impropriety at his rural home, according to Maharaj.
“President Zuma has been addressing the concerns highlighted by the investigation. He has already instructed the special investigating unit to look into that and to bring to book any criminal acts,” said Maharaj. “So steps are being taken. It’s not as if we are not concerned, but the validity of any particular finding is something I cannot comment on at this stage,” said Maharaj.
The report followed an investigation conducted by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into security upgrades at Zuma’s home.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has defended Zuma following accusations his administration failed to judiciously use public funds in the upgrade of home.Some political analysts say the report could undermine the dominance of the ANC in the upcoming May 7 general election.
The more-than 400 page-report recommended, among other measures, that Zuma pay some of the monies used for the upgrades. Maharaj says the investigation will continue.
“Other steps will follow,” said Maharaj. “The report of the public protector if it is acted upon unilaterally can run foul of various other laws. For example, any findings against a person in the defense force cannot just be acted upon. It needs to go through the process as required by the Defense Act where the person is implicated, need to be brought to an inquiry, where they have the right to defend themselves.”
Clottey interview with Mac Maharaj, South Africa's presidential spokesman