South Africa

Politicians say the darndest things: Nkandla quotathon

By Marelise Van Der Merwe 31 March 2016

Nothing like a few bites of humble pie with a side dish of egg on your face. We’ve compiled a list of the most memorable quotes from the past few years of the Nkandla saga. Grab a cup of tea and prepare to wash down Judgment Day. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.

We don’t know what you’re talking about

I took the decision to extend my home… and I built more rondavels. I engaged the bank and I am still paying the bond.

– President Zuma, Parliament, 14 November 2012

There is no evidence that any house belonging to the president was built with public money.

– Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, January 2013

Unfortunately it took a long time.

– Nxesi, explaining to the Parliamentary ad hoc committee that neglect at Nkandla was due to ongoing investigations that halted the project, July 2015

[There is] a disturbing tendency to invoke the name of the president to move the project along.

– Nxesi, to Parliament’s special committee, explaining that undue haste resulted in overspending without the president’s knowledge, September 2014.

I think I said it from the beginning… I do not know where the R246-million comes from and I can only talk about figures with a point of reference to issues of authority.

– Minister Nathi Nhleko, July 2015

That woman just doesn’t know her place, that’s what

The Public Protector is behaving like the DA.

– ANC MP Bongani Bongo, August 2015

She thinks she is God.

– MKMVA Chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe, September 2014

The Public Protector clearly displays a lack of understanding of her powers as the public protector, as well as an understanding of the law in general.

– Lawyer and author of the paper “Legal presentation of our case for the review of the public protector of RSA”, Solomuzi Mdlele, April 2014

It was wrong for the opposition parties to believe the Public Protector report is above all.

– ANC Deputy Chief Whip Doris Dlakude (acting chief whip), November 2014

[We note Madonsela’s report] with sheer disgust… Madonsela must finish up with this Nkandla mess then go. She isn’t competent to speak on issues of security.

– ANC Youth League’s Mzwandile Masina, March 2014

The role of the Public Protector is akin to that of an ombud and quite distinct from that of a judge. Similarly, reports emanating from a Public Protector process are not judgments to be followed under pain of a contempt order…

– President Jacob Zuma, 2014.

We should not, and cannot, apologise when we say the report of the Public Protector … has misled the nation.

– Mathole Motshekga, July 2015

It must be love… JZ is our guy

The President should be respected like any other citizen. We are marching to protect his dignity.

– ANC Women’s League, October 2015. (They further rejected “opportunistic postures” taken by the president’s opponents since the release of Madonsela’s report.)

We have learnt lessons from the judgement, and wish to state it unequivocally, unambiguously and categorically clear that we firmly stand behind the ANC President, Cde Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma,who, even before the ruling, indicated his preparedness to pay in accordance with the Public Protector’s recommendations. This is a sign of continuous strengthening of our democracy that we learn every time .

– ANC Women’s League, 31 March 2016.

We must be strong. We knew that when he got appointed that there would be challenges. I know personally that he will get through this… If the ANC no longer wants him he must come back and herd his cows. We will always be there for him.

– Inkosi Simphiwe Zuma, of the Nxamalala clan in Impendle, 31 March 2016

That the DA is making allegations of corruption is not itself proof that President Zuma is corrupt. Nor is it proof that the expenditure is not justifiable… The ministerial investigation did inform us that the president did nothing wrong. No amount of shouting by the DA-led coalition of opposition parties brings up any new facts.

– Zweli Mkhize, ANC Treasurer-General, April 2013

What part of ‘fire pool’ don’t you understand?

The retaining wall, cattle kraal and culvert, fire pool and water reservoir, accommodation for security personnel and visitors waiting are all essential security features which ensure physical security and effective operation of security equipment.

– Minister Jeff Radebe, March 2014

The law is the law (then and … now)

[President Zuma] is still head of state, even if he is at home.

– Nhleko, May 2015

Accordingly, the State President is therefore not liable to pay for any of the security features.

– Nhleko, May 2015

The report was researched and if it is refuted, it requires that research be conducted. That hasn’t happened. There has been no judgment against the report.

– Nhleko on his earlier finding that in fact more improvements were needed for fire safety aspects, March 2016

The Constitutional Court will simply dismiss the EFF case on Nkandla and point them to Parliamentary process.

– Jimmy Manyi, Twitter, August 2015

Sanef’s expectation that Parliament should have the authority over who accesses the president’s home and its subsequent criticism of the institution for its inability to do so is without foundation and unfair. The ANC would be the first to speak out against any undue interference with or limitations on media’s right to media freedom.

– Then ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani, July 2015

So when are you free for a chat, Mr President?

…[I]t is a call prematurely made.

– S’dumo Dlamini on the call for accountability regarding Nkandla upgrades, December 2013

In my view I would find that it would be premature to come to a conclusion to say there was undue benefit, because that determination must be preceded by expert assessment and determination.

– Mathole Motshekga, October 2014

I believe the question is premature…

– Zuma, 6 August 2015

Mbete said the question had expired at the end of last year in terms of the rules of the house when Parliament went for Christmas recess.

– Dispatch Live, March 2015

We’ll see you in court.

– EFF leader Julius Malema to Zuma, Parliament, early 2016

Everybody stay cool – there’s no problem here!

No state funds were used to build the president’s private residence.

Ministerial Task Team, December 2013.

Parliament reiterates that it treats all institutions supporting democracy in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution.

– Speaker Baleka Mbete, August 2015.

We have been consistent on our position that President Zuma needed to pay a portion of the Nkandla money in line with the Public Protector’s decision.

– Stone Sizani, March 2016.

I have been addressing the ANC caucus for the past two years now. Not a single MP stood up and said they were unhappy with how the Nkandla matter was handled.

– Sizani, 31 March 2016

We said there’s no problem!

I did not use the public’s money in Nkandla. What I’m saying is I’m not guilty.

– Zuma, March 2014

The reality is, the president did absolutely nothing wrong. There is not a single one [report] that found anything wrong that the president had done.

– Zuma, December 2014

No one has found that they [the government departments involved] did anything wrong.

– Zuma, May 2015.

[Nkandla reports] are lies perpetuated by white people.

– Dr Blade Nzimande, April 2014.

But Houston, we do have a problem…

To me, if Nhleko says we will spend more money, and leaves it at that, I think that is reckless in the first place. That is my view. That is reckless.

– Gwede Mantashe, July 2015

From the beginning, I once said to him, President, prepare yourself for repayment. This is before the [Public Protector] report came out. And I said, if you have a problem I’m sure that in your present position it won’t be difficult to raise. He said, no, I did not ask for those security enhancements, I’m not paying. I understood his point of view.

– Mac Maharaj, July 2015

If every time Trevor Manuel gets up and he speaks badly of Parliament and he speaks badly of the courts, he speaks badly of the Auditor-General, of the Public Protector, he makes press statements against them, then what you invite is open season on everything. You don’t have to like the individual, but you have to respect the office. If you fail to understand that, then you weaken the institutions and democracy will always struggle if its institutions are weakened.

– Former finance minister Trevor Manuel, March 2014

It has been investigated by the inter-ministerial task team, as well as the Public Protector, and what I was saying is… there are reports, there are recommendations, and those reports must be acted upon. There’s no ‘if not’. That’s the right thing to do…What needs to be done has to be done. Those who must take responsibility have got to take responsibility.

– Kgalema Motlanthe, March 2014

Oh, BEHAVE!

The Department of Public Works has not spent any money on the upgrade of the president’s Nkandla home.

– Then Minister of Public Works, Geoff Doidge, September 2010

People knew the laws they operated under, (but) they simply forgot the laws.

– Mmamoloko Kubayi (ANC)

From the horse’s mouth

I am not worried about Nkandla, it’s not my problem.

– Zuma, May 2014

Never have I ever thought on the date when I will pay back the money. Firstly, there is no money that I am going to be paying back without a determination by those who are authorised to do so.

– Zuma, March 2015

The Public Protector has not said ‘pay back the money’.

– Zuma, Parliament, March 2015

Why do you say I should pay back the money? You don’t even know how much.

– Zuma, March 2015

There is no case against me.

– Zuma, March 2014

[The EFF’s] understanding is that there is a judgment that Zuma must pay back the money and there is nothing like that.

– Zuma, May 2015.

Eh?

This is not correct… this was just a political perception created that I am refusing to pay.

– Zuma, February 2016.

Never have I dodged a question in Parliament, I have never.

– Zuma, March 2015.

You can’t buy class

I’ve forgiven them because I know it’s not personal. It’s about preservation because he [Sizani] knows the truth.

– Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, March 2014

I am concerned that the decision you have made regarding the police minister gives him power he does not have under law, which is to review my decision taken in pursuit of the powers of administrative scrutiny I am given… by the Constitution.

– letter from Madonsela to Zuma, August 2014

Judgment Day

In a unanimous judgment written by Mogoeng CJ, this court held that the power of the Public Protector to take appropriate remedial action has legal effect and is binding.

– Statement released by the ConCourt to media, 31 March 2016.

The National Assembly’s resolution, based on the minister’s findings exonerating the president from liability, was inconsistent with the Constitution and unlawful.

– Statement released by the ConCourt to media, 31 March 2016

[B]y failing to comply with the Public Protector’s order, the President failed to “uphold, defend and respect” the Constitution because a duty to repay the money was specifically imposed on him through the Public Protector’s constitutional power. […] The failure by the president to comply with the remedial action taken against him, by the Public Protector in her report of 19 March 2014, is inconsistent with section 83(b) of the Constitution read with sections 181(3) and 182(1)(c) of the Constitution and is invalid.

– Judgment issued on 31 March 2016. DM

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