Our zero this week is the police minister Nathi Nhleko, for his clumsy and opaque handling of his part of the Nkandla saga.
Since Nhleko presented his puzzling report, in May, on whether or not President Jacob Zuma should pay back the money for over R260-million worth of upgrades done at the taxpayer’s expense to his private home, the minister has taken flak from many sides. His latest assailant is ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Nhleko informed the nation that he had decided that Zuma was not liable for a cent of the money used. He also said that the current security arrangements needed reviewing, which meant a good chance that more public money would have to be spent.
Last week he revealed that the bulk of the money – R153-million – was actually spent on 21 homes, which have never been used, for security staff. This was not explained at the initial briefing. Nhleko further claimed that he didn’t know who authorised this suddenly-discovered expenditure, but he didn’t back down on the issue of spending more money.
Mantashe, meanwhile, was quoted in weekend newspapers as stating that by not explaining what he meant by “more money”, Nhleko has irritated the public, and had spoken recklessly.
Speaking to City Press, Mantashe said: “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.”
He added that Nhleko should have given details on how much money he – Nhleko – deemed should be spent on which features. “What does ‘more money’ mean in real terms? I don’t know whether you are going to construct something new or are maintaining something already there.”
In August 2014 Nhleko was thrown into the deep end, when Zuma delivered his (long overdue) response to the public protector’s report on Nkandla. Zuma’s conclusion stated that the minister of police must determine whether he – Zuma – was liable for any contribution in respect of the security upgrades.