President Jacob Zuma came out of his corner fighting mad when he took to the stand to respond to parliamentarian questions during his question and answer session on Wednesday in Cape Town.
President Zuma said that he would not pay back the money as chanted by members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters last year in August and during his State of the Nation Address last month. He said, even the public protector had not said that he should pay back the money but had indicated that he should pay back a certain portion of the R246 million that was spent on ‘security upgrades’ to his Nkandla home. He was referring to the report of the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela whose report, which came out early in 2014 and indicated that Zuma and his family had unduly benefitted from the upgrades which, in the Public Protector’s opinion, were not to be regarded as security upgrades. These were specifically identified as a swimming pool, a cattle kraal and a chicken run.
President Zuma maintained his innocence during his question and answer session, saying, “There is no case against me about Nkandla. No pending arrest. Nothing.” He went on to say that when the Public Protector’s report was made public, the news headlines came out saying that he had stolen R250 million and that he needed to pay it back. He said that, after the Public Protector’s report, the government task force investigated and found that he had not taken a penny. Likewise, the Special Investigations Unit, (SIU) also carried out their own independent investigation and they could also not find proof that he had taken money from the state coffers, Zuma insisted.
As far as whether he would be paying back the money to the state was concerned, Zuma said that the recommendation of the Public Protector had been that the portion of the R246 million that he had to pay back had to be determined. He said the Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko had to make this determination, adding that this determination had not yet been made. “Why are you saying I must pay back the money? You don’t even know how much. You don’t even know the final answer on whether I will have to pay back the money.” This was his direct message to EFF benches in apparent response to their chants of “Pay back the money” made in August last year, which resulted in disruption of the president’s question and answer session and parliamentary proceedings.