When official reports on the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home first mentioned the construction of a so-called “firepool”, South Africans were left scratching their heads – because what even is a firepool? All we could see was a swimming pool. On Thursday, we finally found out, thanks to a video presentation from police minister Nathi Nhleko, which featured the notorious “firepool”, the kraal, the visitors’ centre and the amphitheatre would be used to secure Nkandla in emergency situations.
In the video, parts of which are inexplicably set to the tune of ‘O Sole Mio, a fire engine pumps water out of the pool and through a hose pipe for use in the event of a fire.
Nhleko defended the firepool, listing the various ways in which fires could easily spread in Nkandla – the thatched roofed huts at Nkandla were built closely together, making it difficult for a potential fire to be controlled, he said, and the water supply was unreliable. Tests conducted in February had demonstrated that suction from the pool worked better than hydrants, which lacked pressure, he added.
To be sure, thatched huts always face a danger of fire but we don’t think anyone outside of cabinet is really buying this whole “firepool” thing. (Google it – it doesn’t seem to exist anywhere else.) And the odd-ball justifications don’t stop there.
Parts of the Nkandla report have already been made available to the public thanks to Twitter. One posits that the animal enclosure (aka the kraal) is also a security feature because it “keeps livestock away from the security infra-structure”. Yes, South Africa, our public funds were used to keep cows and chickens at bay.
— Francois Huysamen (@Franc_Huys) May 28, 2015
The president had a good time cracking jokes about Nkandla in Parliament yesterday and he might be having an even more jovial time today after the report finally revealed what we’d all pessimistically been expecting: Zuma does not have to pay back the money after all.