Nkandla expenditure was not a 'normal political mistake' - Pierre de Vos

President Jacob Zuma. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The National Assembly might find there is nothing untoward for a court to rule that it or the president is in breach of its constitutional duties because that happens quite a lot, an expert told News24 on Thursday.

What was different with the latest ruling, however, said constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, was that it confirmed the breach by President Jacob Zuma was personal.

He and his family were enriched by a conflict of interest and the effects of mismanagement.

“The president was required to take steps to make sure that people would not drop his name and build him the swimming pool, called the firepool, and so on, and he didn’t do that and it benefited him,” De Vos said.

“It wasn’t a normal political mistake that a normal president might do in maybe not fulfilling a constitutional duty because he was legally unaware of what the right option was in the circumstances.”

De Vos said the Constitution made it clear that, where there was a conflict of interest, members of the executive were not allowed to expose themselves to that. This was also what the public protector had found.

“The president, said the Constitutional Court in its judgment today, clearly acted in a way that exposed him to this conflict of interest, by having private renovations done and then the security renovations at the same time in a context where he must have known that people are going to want to give him some benefits and put some extra frills and a swimming pool here and air-conditioning there.”

He said the ruling set a precedent in clearly stating what the obligations of the National Assembly were in holding the president accountable.

It also made clear “once and for all” that the findings and remedial action of the public protector were in fact binding and could not be ignored. - News24



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