If indications are anything to go by, President Jacob Zuma may be sued for part of the R155 million by his selected architect, Minenhle Makhanya. Zuma is facing investigation for the ballooned cost of upgrades to his Nkandla home. His home was due to be upgraded in keeping with his ascendancy to the presidency. However, as the upgrades were being conducted, things seemed to have gotten out of hand, resulting in the cost reaching as high as R246 million. However, according to several investigations, there were some upgrades that had nothing to do with security. These additional upgrades are said to have served the purpose of increasing the value of the property, which means that the Zuma family benefitted from the state funds unfairly.
The Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, after her investigation, concluded that Jacob Zuma’s family benefitted improperly from the upgrades and therefore needed to repay a portion of the close to a quarter of a billion rand. In his response, Zuma left the whole issue to an appointee of his choice, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, to decide if he needed to repay anything. In addition, parliament set up an ad hoc committee to consider the president’s response to Madonsela’s report. Furthermore, a special Taskforce was set up to investigate the Nkandla debacle. While their findings were almost akin to Madonsela’s, their recommendations were somewhat different.
The Special Investigations Unit also found, among other things that some workers had fingered Zuma for interfering with the whole project for various reasons and at different stages. Some officials mentioned that he had apparently influenced decision making in the project and, in particular, the appointment of the chief architect was mentioned as well as the design and scope of the project. In his response, which was submitted to parliament on Thursday, Zuma said that he was not present, at which certain views, opinions and comments were ascribed to him. Also fingered to have influenced the Nkandla process were the former public works minister Geoff Doidge and Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu. They are said to have threatened those involved by saying they were going to lose their jobs if certain consultants and contractors were not appointed. They both denied these allegations.
After its investigations, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) recommended that the blame of the extravagant spending needed to be laid at the hands of the chief architect, Minenhle Makhanya. In justifying the reason for this, the SIU argued that this was because his involvement in the project had caused the state a lot of losses. The unit added that the onus was on the chief architect to identify the third parties that were involved in the increase of the Nkandla budget. In this light therefore, he was within his right to seek the intervention of the third parties in servicing the repayment to the state. In this light, it is more than likely that he would call on Zuma for his part of the debt. This means that Zuma is most likely to be sued in this regard.