Nkandla fire pool comment likened to Phala Phala farm cover-up

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. | Supplied

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. | Supplied

Published Jan 8, 2024


ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula’s admission that the ANC lied on behalf of former president Jacob Zuma about the swimming pool built at his Nkandla home using public money more than 10 years ago has come back to haunt the party.

At the height of this scandal sometime in 2013, it was revealed that the R206 million upgrades at Zuma’s then private residence in Nkandla was laden with corruption.

This is after reports revealed that several companies and persons who were awarded tenders were never required to produce security clearances and some of the prices were inflated.

(In the Pic - Demonstration of the fire fighting capabilities at the Fire Pool by members of the emergency services). The Presidency hosts a media visit to President Jacob Zuma's residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) requested that journalists be accorded an opportunity to see the facilities mentioned in various reports on the Nkandla security upgrades. During the visit by the National Assembly Ad-hoc Committee on Nkandla, the media was taken on a tour of some of the infrastructure outside the residence. The Sunday tour included the government facilities inside the premises. 26/07/2015, Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Mbalula’s utterances on Sunday shocked many ahead of the party’s January 8 Statement to be delivered by party president, Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday.

“We defended former president Zuma, even going to Parliament and saying that a swimming pool is a fire pool ... The Constitutional Court, chaired by (Justice) Mogoeng Mogoeng, issued a judgment against Jacob Zuma, but the ANC stood by him. Zuma now says he can’t stand President Cyril Ramaphosa,” Mbalula told the media in Mbombela.

Mbalula’s admission more than 10 years later has raised eyebrows about the current situation with Ramaphosa's very own Phala Phala farm scandal where more than R10 million or $580 000 in USD were reportedly stolen in February 2020.

Later, the Section 89 Independent Panel chaired by retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo revealed that Ramaphosa was not being truthful by declaring that only $580 000 (an estimated R9.5 million) was stolen.

However, the report of the panel was rejected by the ANC in Parliament after the party told its MPs to vote against its adoption in a bid to protect its president.

Last year, then acting Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka, and the SA Reserve Bank governor, Lesetja Kganyago, cleared Ramaphosa on any wrongdoing in the matter. This resulted in opposition political parties such as the EFF, UDM and ATM, declaring these reports as a whitewash aimed at protecting Ramaphosa from being held accountable.

This was despite there being enough evidence that Ramaphosa had violated the Executive Ethics Code and the Exchange Control Regulations, respectively.

In its reaction, IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Mbalula has merely confirmed what the whole country and the world knew: that the ANC is a corrupt syndicate which was no longer fit to govern and Zuma was a beneficiary of that corruption.

Hlengwa said the upcoming elections were an opportunity to remove the ANC and its most brazen beneficiaries from power.

Parliament was now duty-bound to review the Nkandla-related reports and hold accountable those who were party to misleading Parliament as this was a criminal offence, Hlengwa said.

Weighing in on the matter, DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the admission by Mbalula that they lied to the country, to Parliament and broke the law was a grave indictment on the ANC.

“Their MPs collectively contravened their oath of office. The ANC is not fit to govern the country. This admission proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

“We hope South Africans keep that in mind when they cast their votes in the election this year,” said the DA.

Adding its voice, African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula said this confession proved the ANC would go to any lengths to protect its own and it was in no way shocking.

He said the Zondo Inquiry and its report were finalised, with all the recommendations and a list of state capture culprits implicated for wrongdoing, however, nothing was done as the very same ANC refuses to entertain it. The party treats it and the Section 89 Independent Panel Report in the same light.

“These reports are equally similar and their recommendations are just as valid because in hindsight, this Phala Phala matter is a form of state capture.

“All the machinery of the ANC is unleashed when their leader fumbles -- Riah Phiyega, the former National Police Commissioner is on record spewing lies about how they built the 'fire pool’ because rural areas don’t have fire extinguishers, etc, and how all the efforts were in the protection of the then president.

“Fast forward to 2022, and the ANC repeats history, shielding Cyril Ramaphosa from accountability on the #PhalaPhalaFarmGate scandal after the ATM successfully initiated an Independent Section 89 process led by the capable former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo,” said Zungula.

The Phala Phala saga, where millions in undeclared foreign currency were stolen at the farm of President Cyril Ramaphosa, nearly brought down his Presidency.

Former Cope spokesperson and leader of the Activists and Citizens Forum, Dennis Bloem, said the ANC is repeating what it did in 2012 when it covered up for Zuma with the current Phala Phala farm scandal.

Bloem said the forum is not surprised by Mbalula’s confession that the party banded together to protect one man.

“We as the Activists and Citizen’s Forum are not surprised by the confession by the ANC SG. The SG has just confessed publicly, that the ANC lied to Parliament and the country on the Jacob Zuma Nkandla scandal.

“Mbalula claimed that the swimming pool built at Zuma’s Nkandla residence was a fire pool which was repeated by the former minister of police Nathi Mthethwa,” Bloem said.

Bloem said the same is happening with the cover-up of the Phala Phala farm report by the Section 89 inquiry which found Ramaphosa had a case to answer on the undeclared dollars which were stuffed in sofas and mattresses before they were stolen in February 2020.

“This confession by Mbalula raises a lot of questions. How can the citizens of this country trust Parliament anymore? The second question is: will the ANC also do anything possible to defend their current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on the serious allegations against him,” Bloem added.

Mbalula lambasted Zuma for being part of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party and his criticism of the incumbent president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mbalula said Zuma automatically expelled himself from the ANC after declaring his support for the MK party. He said the ANC is not going to subject Zuma to a disciplinary hearing.

ANC head of Presidency, Xolani Basani, has defended Mbalula, saying his utterances were not about defending corruption but to show how the ANC has dealt with the issue of corruption.

“The ANC has not lied about president Zuma. But what the ANC has been doing is that whenever the leader is attacked, it will seek to find facts,” Basani told “Newzroom Afrika”.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) said if Mbalula’s recent statements are anything to go by, and when given the chance, the ANC has shown that it will always put the party’s interests above those of South Africans.