Nathi Nhleko insists Nkandla swimming pool was a fire pool, slams Mbalula

Former police minister Nathi Nhleko, left, is furious that Fikile Mbalula has dug up the long-forgotten ‘fire pool’ saga and besmirched the ANC’s name. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams / Independent Newspapers

Former police minister Nathi Nhleko, left, is furious that Fikile Mbalula has dug up the long-forgotten ‘fire pool’ saga and besmirched the ANC’s name. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 10, 2024


Former police minister Nathi Nhleko says the African National Congress (ANC) and it's secretary-general Fikile Mbalula had no competency to determine if the controversial R3.9 million swimming pool at former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla house was indeed a fire pool or a swimming pool.

Nhleko insists the swimming pool was a fire pool.

This is despite former public protector Thuli Madonsela's Secure In Comfort report finding that it was one of the non-essential security upgrades in the R200 million Nkandla saga.

Madonsela found that a swimming pool, amphitheatre, kraal, chicken run and a visitors centre were not part of security upgrades and were for the Zuma family's personal benefit.

The Constitutional Court, through a calculation by Treasury, ordered Zuma to repay over R7.8 million.

This comes after Mbalula reopened the Nkandla can of worms as he attempted to admonish Zuma, who has since left the ANC in protest to lead the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) political party, while also urging people not to vote for the ANC.

Mbalula said the ANC had lied about the Nkandla fire pool to protect Zuma.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday, Nhleko insisted that a fire pool, and not a swimming pool, had been built in Nkandla.

“The ANC has no competency to make such a determination, nor does the police minister,” he said.

Nhleko said an engineer by the name of Oberholzer, who was involved in the Nkandla project, made an analysis that water availability within the homestead was a problem and that 210 kilolitres of water was needed through an open water source.

“That's where the issue of the fire pool comes in. If he (Mbalula) is saying the ANC lied to Parliament, surely then, someone gave me an instruction to lie. Who took that decision?

“He (Mbalula) needs to present to the SA public who did that,” said Nhleko.

However, Madonsela found that originally a fire pool had been planned, but a request by the president was made to convert it to a swimming pool and it was duly converted.

Madonsela explained to Parliament in August 2015 that an apportionment document referred to the pool as a swimming pool.

“The narrative starting with a discussion that there is a request from the Presidency to convert the fire pool into a swimming pool and the committee flagging this item, pending Mr Makhanya, the President’s agent, consulting the President on his willingness to pay for the conversion.

“This matter is penned in minutes for a period of time. Then suddenly, and without any documents indicating what the owner’s response was, we later discover that the fire pool has been converted into a swimming pool.

“The Apportionment Document indicates an amount to be paid by the owner for the conversion. Regarding what then is the structure where a fire pool has been topped up with swimming pool features, it clearly is a swimming pool with firefighting functionality.

“Does it matter whether it is clean or not? Certainly not. The investigation was about what was constructed and not how have the installations been maintained or not maintained,” said Madonsela at the time.

According to Nhleko, his report on Nkandla was still valid, as no political party had taken it on review in court, despite threats at the time from James Selfe, an MP from the Democratic Alliance.

Mbalula has already been publicly scolded by ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, who said he should have not reopened the Nkandla can of worms.

Nhleko, in the meantime, is not backing down, saying Mbalula’s publicly aired assertion that he had lied on the ANC’s behalf was damaging to the party, himself and even President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom he had been reporting to at the time as deputy president.

“I don't know why he said this kind of thing because it damages the image of the ANC.

“The ANC does not have the competency to determine any pool of water, that is work done by professionals,” insisted Nhleko.

He also said Mbalula was out of order for suggesting he (Nhleko) had been sweating during a press conference where he explained the Nkandla fire pool.

“I did not know the ANC secretary-general is now a psychoanalyst. It is terrible to suggest (that) because I was sweating, that I was lying.

“There was no lie that I was telling. I wouldn't want to entertain that type of rubbish, because on a regular basis I was reporting to the Deputy President who is the President now.

“If there is any issue about Nkandla, I would go to the president, I don't know why he would want to implicate the ANC and the president like this.

“My report was backed up in terms of engineering and culture (experts). He doesn't have any scientific proof or analysis of what the issue was about,” said Nhleko.

Nhleko said he would campaign for the ANC to win the 2024 elections.

IOL News