* State investigators say no evidence home paid for by state
* Say government spent $23 mln on security at Zuma compound
* Opposition party calls report a "whitewash"
By Tosin Sulaiman
PRETORIA, Jan 27 Public funds were not spent on
building South African President Jacob Zuma a house in his home
village, state investigators said on Sunday in a report that
sought to end one of the biggest scandals to hit Zuma before
elections next year.
The report did say the government had spent 206 million rand
($22.98 million) on security upgrades and related costs at the
president's private compound, and that this decision was based
on an assessment of threats to Zuma.
Opposition politicians and media have said Zuma used up to
250 million rand of state funds to upgrade his private residence
in his home village of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, who led the so-called
"Nkandlagate" inquiry, said there was no evidence that public
money was spent on Zuma's home or on any house belonging to him.
However, the state paid 71 million rand for security
upgrades at the complex and an additional 135 million rand was
spent on "operational needs for state departments", including
support staff, medical facilities and accommodation, Nxesi said.
The investigation by Nxesi's department, which was in charge
of the upgrades, including installing bullet proof windows and
security fences, did find irregularities in awarding tenders.
Nxesi told reporters that any officials at his department
who were implicated would be investigated and held accountable.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party called
the report, which will not be made public, a "whitewash", and
said the investigators seemed more focused on punishing
low-ranking officials than holding Zuma responsible.
"There was absolutely no willingness on the part of
government to admit to South Africans today that spending this
amount on one man's home is ethically and lawfully wrong," said
Lindiwe Mazibuko, the DA's parliamentary leader.
Justice minister Jeffrey Radebe said Zuma did not know the
details of the security arrangements at his home.
"The president is not involved in this process and he is not
expected to sign on anything as he has no authority with these
security upgrades," he said.
The report was welcomed by the ruling ANC, which has been
in power since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
Despite securing more than 60 percent of the vote in the
last four democratic elections, the ANC is losing support to
opposition parties who have accused it of graft, cronyism and
failing to tackle widespread poverty and unemployment.
"The ANC believes that this report will bring to closure the
issue of Nkandla that has generated speculative public opinion
and has been used to incorrectly attack (the) President, the ANC
and its government," a spokesman said.