Nhleko U-Turn on Nkandla upgrade briefing highly suspicious

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The DA finds it highly suspicious that the new Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko, mysteriously cancelled a press briefing scheduled for today, to explain the new upgrades and improvements planned at Jacob Zuma’s palace of corruption, Nkandla.

This after both senior Public Works officials, and the Minister of Police, are reported to have confirmed these upgrades are going ahead.

The President’s public denial of requesting upgrades to the “residence” is simply not good enough. This smacks of the same obfuscation around Zuma’s mortgage bond, which was nothing more than a smokescreen to mislead Parliament. There is a difference between the entire Nkandla “homestead” compound, which includes chicken facilities, a swimming pool and visitor’s entrance, and the individual living quarters, or “residence”, within the compound.

The public needs to be taken into confidence and given guarantees that there will be no further upgrades at all, to any part of Nkandla, not just the “residence”. This is what we expected of Nhleko today.

This U-turn by Nhleko is very suspicious and strongly suggests that there is something to hide. If Nhleko had a defensible case to make, he would have come out and given today’s briefing.

We have not forgotten the role that Nhleko played in defending the Nkandla scandal from the start, most notably at the infamous “fire-pool” press conference, and the DA urges Nhleko to avoid any similar performances going forward. The passionate defence of Nkandla from such senior ANC Ministers only illustrates that many conspired to build Jacob Zuma the enormously expensive Nkandla, or defend it, using public money.

It is deeply concerning that ten officials from the Department of Public Works are being used as scapegoats for not following proper procedure in the procurement processes for the R246 million Nkandla upgrade, when it was clearly a politically collective project for the ANC government.

No additional upgrades to the President’s Nkandla homestead are justifiable. We expect Minister Nhleko to come out of hiding and tell the nation that Nkandla will no longer receive a single cent of public money, for any further upgrades.

The DA will challenge any corrupt leaders for flagrantly abusing the public purse at the expense of the poor and jobless.

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