President Jacob Zuma may only pay back a million rand of the R246-million of taxpayers’ money spent on his Nkandla home. The ‘probable’ Nkandla bill was arrived at following a legal opinion and comments from lawyers representing his adversaries.
Following Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruling in March that the National Treasury must determine a “reasonable percentage” of the costs which should be paid personally by the president, the public had hoped that he pays back the ‘millions’ on the features he “unduly benefited” from.
But, Zuma’s legal advice is that his bill would be a fraction of what was spent on the facilities. Lawyers involved in the Constitutional Court process seem to agree.
We’ll recall that Zuma was ordered to pay for the visitors centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal, the chicken run and the swimming pool built on his property because according to Madonsela, these items are not security-related.
Speaking on the matter, Advocate Wim Trengove, who argued against Zuma on behalf of the EFF, said the philosophy of the ConCourt’s order is that “Zuma should pay to the extent for which he has been enriched. He shouldn’t pay for the wasteful expenditure incurred by the state, because it is not his fault”.
Trengove asserted that Madonsela’s recommendation that Zuma must pay “a reasonable percentage” really gave the Treasury wide discretion in determining the amount.
“It would not be the costs paid for the swimming pool. It would be the reasonable cost of that particular swimming pool. It is the reasonable costs, not actual costs, because in this case we know the actual costs were much higher. It would then be a percentage of that cost. I am not sure why a percentage, but the public protector said [that].” he added.
Meanwhile, it has been found that the state spent close to R10-million on the five non-security-related items. This figure was arrived at according to figures gathered from the public protector’s report, the Special Investigating Unit report and that of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.
A breakdown of the total cost indicate that R3.96-million was spent on the swimming pool; R3.92-million was spent on the visitors centre while R1.2-million was spent on the cattle kraal and chicken run.
However, the cost of Zuma’s amphitheatre is still unclear, but the DA’s calculation puts the price tag R530930 – using figures provided in the public protector’s report.
An insider said although records indicate that the Department of Public Works paid R3.9-million for the swimming pool, the president is expected to pay a portion of R140000.
On the other hand, Zuma’s legal adviser, Michael Hulley, believes that “The fact of the matter is there is going to be an amount to be paid. It is straightforward and simple.”
Meanwhile, the team established by Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile is now finalising its report and has until May 31 to determine how much Zuma has to pay.
ANC Willing To Help Pay Zuma’s Nkandla Bill
Though EFF’s Malema had pushed on for “Zuma to pay back the money”, the president’s supporters, particularly the ANC in Mpumalanga, have indicated their willingness to help foot Zuma’s Nkandla bill.