Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 24 March 2014

Nkandla criminal charges explained

The road to Nkandla runs through beautiful, verdant hills. Absolutely picturesque, a place one could dream of living. As I travelled through the deep rural villages of KZN last week it was also equally striking how development is lagging behind.

The municipality of Nkandla is vastly under-performing, the roads are in a mess and infrastructure is lagging. When you are about 10km from Nkandla something in the picture starts to change. You are stopped constantly by makeshift traffic controls for cattle that are en route to a specific place in Nkandla, a place of great wealth.

As you progress you see the shape of President Zuma’s homestead emerging. It strikes you as a place of lights, like Sun City in middle of a sea of poverty.

The houses next door in many ways tell the story of the municipality. But in Nkandla, the homestead tells the story of the ANC. When the Nkandla report was released last week I expected that government and the ANC would do their best to defend Jacob Zuma.

But I was surprised to hear many people go as far as claiming the Nkandla report actually cleared the President of any wrongdoing. Strangely we heard it from not just the ANC Youth and Women’s leagues, but Ministers Motshekga and Radebe as well.

Based on the Report’s findings, let’s put one question on the table:

Is President Zuma guilty of a crime for the building of his R246million homestead?

Corruption in all its forms is criminalised by the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act, signed into law by President Mbeki in 2004.

Chapter 2, section 4 of the Act makes it criminal for anyone receiving a public salary to accept undue material benefits in exchange for a particular action.

That’s how simple the legal definition of corruption is in South Africa – you give me something and I’ll return the favour, outside of the rules.

To apply this criminal definition of corruption to the Nkandla report findings, here is a short Q&A:

Q: What did the President get?

A: Private home, luxuries including a cattle kraal, chicken run, visitors’ centre, amphitheatre, swimming pool and extensive paving

Q: From whom?

A: Contractors the President personally appointed to build these private luxuries.

Q: What did these contractors get in return?

A: Payments worth millions from public funds.

Q: Was it outside of the rules?

A: Yes, the Public Works Department is on record in the report citing the President’s hand-picking of contractors as a key reason why they did not go to tender.

In fact the more Zuma added luxuries for his home into the project cost, the more profit the contractors he appointed made.

And the sky was the limit because everything was done outside of the original security evaluation and Minimum Standards Allowance designated for Zuma’s Office.

So, the Public Protector’s findings leave no doubt that President Zuma has committed the crime of Corruption as described in section 4 (1) and (2) of the Act.

The President was in fact the central driving force behind the entire R246 million process of luxurious upgrades to his personal home, using public money.

That is why we went to Nkandla to lay criminal charges against the President of the Republic last week. What angers me most is that we don’t get an apology, an arrest, a resignation or any justice as citizens who have been stolen from.

Instead we have our intelligence insulted by people saying the President has been cleared of all wrongdoing. Nkandla is a symbol of grand corruption, the tip of the R30 billion iceberg of public money lost every year to this crime. That is President Zuma’s legacy in government which will only worsen over time.

I voted for the ANC, I believed in the organisation. But now, I realize that more than anything else I actually believed in Nelson Mandela. Now that his spirit and legacy cannot be preserved by the ANC I have changed, because I had to.

I once went to the deep rural parts of the Eastern Cape, a place also defined by the beauty of the hills. To my amazement, I saw President Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu, its startling humility epitomizing the man he was.

Here he was back home, almost like the shepherd boy became king. He wasn’t just the king, but also the servant. Here was a leader who didn’t need fire pools, or heavy security. He behaved as one who wouldn’t need protection from his people, but instead by his people. He was a person who demonstrated accessibility, not someone tucked away in a prison of wealth with a visitors centre.

These images remind me that the gravest of issues I take with Nkandla is the legacy of Nelson Mandela’s humility and ethical leadership which now lies neatly buried in the hills of KZN, right at President Zuma’s homestead. DM


Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.

Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.

You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.

So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.


Litigious Zuma liable for R16m in fees

By Greg Nicolson

Tigers cannot purr.