Findings on cost of Zuma home to stay secret, says South African minister
Two additional investigations into multimillion-euro upgrade of president’s rural home under way
Renovation plans for South African president Jacob Zuma’s rural home show the complex contains 10 air-conditioned rooms, underground living quarters, a clinic for Mr Zuma and his family, 10 houses for security personnel, houses for air force and police units, a helipad, underground parking, playgrounds and visitor centres. Photograph: Felix Dlangamandla/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The findings of an investigation commissioned by the South African government into the multimillion-euro upgrade of president Jacob Zuma’s rural home have been classified as “top secret” by the state security ministry.
The classification means the report’s findings cannot be made public, and not even auditor-general or public protector, both of whom are carrying out separate investigations into the upgrades, will be allowed to view its contents.
The investigation sought to ascertain how 206 million rand (€15.3 million), the vast majority of which was taxpayers’ money, could be spent on security upgrades for Mr Zuma’s residence near the deeply rural village of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Public works minister Thulas Nxesi told parliament this week that state security minister Siyabonga Cwele had classified the report in terms of the minimum information security standards, a policy created by government in 1996.
The decision has been widely criticised by opposition parties who believe the expensive upgrade is illegal, but also immoral given the country’s high poverty levels.
The renovation plans show the complex contains 10 air-conditioned rooms, underground living quarters, a clinic for Mr Zuma and his family, 10 houses for security personnel, houses for air force and police units, a helipad, underground parking, playgrounds and visitor centres.
Mr Zuma has denied knowing how much the upgrade cost, as the renovations were handled by the public works department.
However, due to mounting pressure since word of the upgrade’s cost was leaked to the media last October, the government launched an investigation into exactly what was paid for by the state.
Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said that although the minimum information security standards policy was created by former president Nelson Mandela’s cabinet, it “never passed through parliament”.
“This confirms the DA’s position that the report has not been ‘classified’ in terms of law,” she said, adding her party would call on Mr Nxesi to submit to parliament a redacted version of the report, which must be made public before the relevant committees.