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Zuma has 72 hours to answer for Nkandla

Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance
4 November 2012

Today my colleagues and I visited President Jacob Zuma’s compound at Nkandla to see what a R250 million renovation with public money looks like.

We felt it was important for us to see the compound for ourselves before we embark on court action against the President for this blatant abuse of power. This is state-sponsored corruption on an unprecedented scale. We cannot let him get away with it.

 On the 16th of October we wrote to the President, and to various government ministers, asking for the truth about Nkandla. We asked them for details on how much was spent, on what, by whom, and under what provision of law.

We got no response other than to acknowledge receipt of our letters. Today we are giving President Zuma and his government a further 72 hours to respond. If there is no substantive response by close of business on Wednesday 7 November, we will instruct our lawyers to make preparations to take him and the government to court over what is now known as ‘Nkandlagate’.

The news of our visit was met with open threats of violence from the ANC and the SACP. No ANC leaders repudiated or condemned these threats.  In fact, they were amplified with inflammatory and race-loaded rhetoric by senior ANC leaders. We will not be intimidated from exercising our constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight and focus public attention on the facts.  And we will not allow the ANC to declare certain areas ‘no-go zones’ in our country.

The ANC has condemned our visit here today because they say this is the ‘private residence’ of the President. They don’t see the irony in that statement. It is exactly because this is the private residence of the President that this publicly funded upgrade is so wrong. When almost a quarter of a billion rand of public money is spent on a private residence, then it cannot be considered ‘private’ any longer.

President Zuma has lost the right to call this his private residence. Nkandla belongs to each and every South African who has to sacrifice the basic services they need, so that the President could turn his home into a five-star fortressed palace. One day we will look at it as a monument to the fight against corruption, a reminder of a President who thought he could get away with stealing the people’s money.
 
Abusing public money for private benefit is the very definition of corruption. The R250 million spent on Nkandla is the most brazen case of corruption since the Arms Deal, in which President Zuma also played an active role.

In fact, the two cases are closely linked. It is a matter of court record that the bribe paid by Schabir Shaik to then Deputy President Zuma in 2000 was to help fund the original construction of the Nkandla compound. Zuma abused his position as President to escape prosecution in that case. Now he has abused his position to finish the renovations to his homestead with public money.
 
The DA has never been intimidated by the ANC, and we are not now. The truth must come out about Nkandla. President Zuma must answer to all South Africans for stealing their money for his personal use.