The South African Council of Churches has added its voice to a growing concord of outrage over Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s Nkandla Report that absolved President Jacob Zuma from repaying any money for the security upgrades to his home.
Slamming Nhleko’s report which contradicts the findings of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, SACC President and Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of SA, Bishop Zipho Siwa, says the Police Minister’s recommendations “are shocking and a grave mockery of justice. We are gravely concerned about the failure of the President and the relevant ministers to accept moral and political responsibility in relation to the unjustifiably high costs of the upgrades. Having ministers defend the indefensible damages the moral integrity of the whole governing system.”
Siwa says Zuma’s response to the presidency budget vote debate in Parliament this week “has left the leadership of the South African Council of Churches appalled”.
“Jesting about the scandalous Nkandla issue and investigation during his response to parliament was an undeniably low point in the Presidency, of which there are becoming too many. Behaving and speaking like a ‘court jester’ was disappointing, embarrassing and inappropriate for the head of state,” he says in a media statement released today.
Referring to Nhleko’s report he says: “Scapegoating and finger pointing has only served to highlight the lack of accountability within the ruling ranks and erode voter confidence in its government.
“The review of the Public Protector’s report should have been conducted by a competent independent body or arm of government and not by a minister who serves the whim of the Office being investigated. It’s a sad day when the office of the Public Protector, one of the symbols of our very democracy, is reduced to an office of ‘public suggestions’ .
“These concerns and others were raised with the ANC leadership by the SACC and we hope that a follow-up meeting will happen soon. The time has come for all citizens to unite across political, social, economic and religious persuasions to hold all of us who are in positions of influence accountable.
“We will continue to pray for the government to be directed in the ways of justice, honesty, peace and dignity for all”.
Opposition parties and civil society have indicated that the Nkandla matter is not over and they are taking legal advice on the way forward.
In his reaction to the Police Minister’s report, African Christian Democratic President Kenneth Meshoe expressed shock and disbelief at the finding that Zuma in not liable to pay anything for the upgrades to his residence.
ACDP President, Rev Kenneth Meshoe, today expressed shock and disbelief that Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, has found that President Jacob Zuma is not liable to repay anything for the upgrades to his Nkandla residence.
He says: “This flies directly in the face of the Public Protector’s Report which recommended that remedial action be taken by the President to ‘ take steps, with the assistance of the National Treasury and the SAPS, to determine the reasonable cost of the measures implemented by the DPW at his private residence that do not relate to security, which includes the Visitors’ Centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal and chicken run, the swimming pool,’ and’Pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures…'”
“The Minister has now found that all these measures are security-related. Whilst we appreciate the need to protect the President and his family, the costs incurred to date are exorbitant and have caused public outrage.
“What is further concerning, given the large amounts already spent on Nkandla, is that the report states that more is to be spent on the outstanding security-related work.
The Minister’s exoneration, to a certain degree, is to be expected, given the prevailing attitude of protecting President Zuma at all costs as displayed by both the Executive and the ad hoc committees of Parliament dealing with the issue.
“The ACDP will, once again, participate in the ad hoc committee dealing with this report where we will highlight the glaring inconsistencies between it and the Public Protector’s Report.”