Home News ANC fury over leak of damning Zuma report

ANC fury over leak of damning Zuma report

Published on 03/12/2013

South Africa's ruling party on Tuesday upbraided the country's top anti-corruption watchdog, accusing her office of leaking an explosive report on multimillion dollar taxpayer refurbishments at President Jacob Zuma's home.

The African National Congress’s secretary general Gwede Mantashe accused Thuli Madonsela of “dangerous” behaviour, saying her office leaked the report to “hype the sentiments of the public” just months before an election.

Excerpts from the unfinished report, titled “Opulence on a Grand Scale”, found that some of the $20-million “security upgrades” to the president’s home were unjustifiable and came at “enormous cost” to taxpayers.

The works included a swimming pool, outdoor amphitheatre, marquee area and two helipads.

The government’s decision to spend large sums of taxpayer money on Zuma’s private property has generated public anger amid an economic crunch in a country where 10 million people live on social grants and many have only tin shacks as homes.

Coming ahead of general elections, expected around April or June, the report has also been seized on by the ANC’s political foes.

“The leakage of extracts of the provisional report by the office of the public protector can only be understood as seeking to undermine the confidence of the public,” Mantashe said.

He called for the full report — which would include government explanations — to be released as soon as possible.

“Any further postponement of the report’s release allows this matter to fester in the public domain as we approach elections,” he said.

The ANC controls parliament and actively deploys its members to positions in the judiciary, business and civil service, ensuring that such official criticism of the president is rare.

Since the report was released Madonsela has come in for a storm of personal criticism from ANC members, in what party critics have described as an attempt to neuter the watchdog.

Mantashe doubled down on that criticism Tuesday, saying that if the graft-buster “keeps that report until the eve of the elections, we are saying she is playing a political game.”

“This can be construed as a delaying tactic and a political ploy to create negativity around the image and the integrity of the president of the ANC and the ANC itself.”