Some security features an excessive encroachment - Zuma

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma said some security features at Nkandla encroached on his enjoyment of his home in a response to the Speaker of Parliament.

Zuma formally presented his response to the security upgrades at his private Nkandla homestead to Parliament on Thursday, the Presidency said.

"The report has been prepared with due consideration of the following reports - the report of the joint standing committee on intelligence (JSCI), the report of the public protector titled "Secure in Comfort", and the progress report in terms of the Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act submitted by the head of the SIU," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

In the report Zuma said security upgrades to his homestead were discussed when he became president in 2009.

He said: “I had initially met with the then minister of public works Geoff Doidge, senior police officials and other government officials at my homestead in a consultative process regarding improved security due to his occupation as the President of the Republic.”

At the time Nkandla was undergoing constructional improvements. Zuma had then met the same grouping of people and Minenhle Makhanya, the consultant who was already engaged with building work at the homestead.

The meeting was “so that they would be appraised of the pre-existing plans for construction of the residences”.

Zuma said: “From time to time I received briefing both formally and informally from various ministers engaged with security enhancements… I was advised at some stage of the need to declare the homestead as a national security key point. While I took no exception to such declaration, I was not intimately involved in the finer details.”

He said he had raised concern about the lengthy delays of the upgrades and the impact on his family. “I found security features like the bullet-proof windows an excessive encroachment on my use and enjoyment of his property,” he said in the report.

Zuma said: “I am satisfied with the progress report of the SIU and the inventions both proposed and actualised in terms of the civil and criminal law, as well as the departmental procedures, speak to the seriousness of their findings.”

Zuma’s undertaking

Zuma had undertaken to give Speaker Baleka Mbete a comprehensive report on the outcome of three separate investigations into state spending of some R246m on his Nkandla home in KwaZulu-Natal.

Public spending on security upgrades at Nkandla turned into one of the major controversies of the Zuma presidency as costs escalated and it emerged that the project included a swimming pool, an amphitheatre, and chicken run.

Zuma declined to respond to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report in full within the required fortnight and said instead he would wait for the Special Investigating Unit findings.

On 5 July, the ANC chief whip's office said Zuma had received the provisional SIU report and would provide Mbete with a final and comprehensive response within 30 days.

Zuma signed a proclamation on 18 December giving the SIU the go-ahead to investigate "intentional or negligent loss of public money" at Nkandla.

In a report released in March, Madonsela found Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the R246m spent on the security upgrades.

The SIU said its report on the Nkandla spending would be made available next week.