/ 29 November 2013

Impeach Zuma, says Twitter petition

President Jacob Zuma at the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo
Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 have been killed including medics and children. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

Calls for the impeachment of President Jacob Zuma began circulating on Twitter on Friday.

"The leaked public protector report on Nkandla proves that president Zuma lied to Parliament and personally benefited from over R200-million of public money [without proper tender]," the petition reads.

"Further, he personally intervened, unlawfully, by appointing his own architect over those already employed by the department of public works."

The petition, by a group calling themselves the committee for the impeachment of the president, want Zuma and everyone involved in the multi-million rand upgrade to his Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal to be prosecuted.

If this did not happen it called on people to demonstrate outside Parliament on February 13 next year.

Impeachment is the process by which an official is accused of improper conduct and can result in his/her removal from office and criminal charges.

By 2pm on Friday the petition had reached 250 signatures. Activist Zackie Achmat was one of the people who signed it.

This came after the Mail & Guardian on Friday reported that Zuma received substantial personal benefits from the upgrades.

Pools and kraals
Government has stated the upgrades were essential for Zuma's security, but Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found a swimming pool, visitors' centre, amphitheatre, cattle kraal, marquee area, extensive paving, and new houses for relatives included at "enormous cost" to the taxpayer.

Madonsela's report recommends the president be called to account by Parliament for violating the executive ethics code on two counts.

These were for failing to protect state resources, and misleading Parliament for suggesting he and his family had paid for all non-security-related features.

She recommended that he must repay a "reasonable" amount of the money spent to the state, the M&G said.

The amount he was required to pay was whittled down from R18.6-million to about R3-million, according to documents the newspaper obtained.

Twitter users on Friday expressed their dismay at the M&G report while others made sarcastic comments about the Zuma homestead.

"How can we be expected to believe anything the President says? He must be called to task #Nkandla #nkandlagate," one Twitter user wrote.

"If the #ANC want my vote next year then hold #Zuma accountable now and prove you the party of old. #Nkandla#2014elections #nothappening," said another.

A Telkom parody profile tweeted: "Hm, just learnt that you can also pay your etolls by depositing money into this account: JZ NKANDLA TRUST, STD BANK, Acc No.#000001." 

Another said: "Everyone should go to #Nkandla on 27 April – 1 May and have a commemorative jol there. Amandla awethu." 

"Where do we get the number for Zuma's anti-corrpution hotline? Need to report him #Nkandla #nkandlagate," said another.

'Unlawful' to publish
Meanwhile, Thuli Madonsela's office said on Friday that it was unethical and unlawful for the M&G to publish the public protector's provisional reports.

"It violates section 7(2) of the public protector Act 23, 1994," her spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said in a statement.

"As a rule, we do not comment on whatever purports to be a provisional report of the public protector as those are not reports of the public protector." Section 7(2) of the act states, "No person shall disclose to any other person the contents of any document in the possession of a member of the office of the public protector or the record of any evidence given before the public protector, deputy public protector or a person … during an investigation, unless the public protector determines otherwise."

DA reaction
The Democratic Alliance said the provisional findings contained in the report "are so damning that, if accurate, they would warrant the most severe sanction of President Jacob Zuma's conduct", reported News24.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said in a statement that should the final report findings remain unchanged, she will consider tabling a motion to investigate Zuma in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution.

"This motion would result in a full investigation by Parliament into his conduct on two grounds, both contained in the Constitution, namely (a) being in violation of the Constitution or the law and (b) committing 'serious misconduct'.

"As more and more details surrounding Nkandlagate emerge, it is becoming increasingly clear that President Zuma is at the centre of one of the biggest corruption scandals in democratic South Africa. He must be accordingly held accountable by Parliament for his actions," Mazibuko stated.

In reaction to the news report, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said Zuma had misled Parliament and the public and that he wanted to conduct a parallel investigation to get to the bottom of what happened at Nkandla.

"One thing is clear; President Zuma has misled Parliament and the nation. Unfortunately this person is not accountable to the electorate, but to Luthuli House, and the African National Congress must take responsibility for the actions of their deployee.

"For us to take this matter to Parliament is not going to work and we, instead, must send the police, the Hawks and the auditors to get to the bottom of this mess," he said.

Cope leader Mosioua Lekota said it backed Madonsela's reported recommendation that Zuma be made to repay money spent at Nkandla.

"The Congress of the People welcomes and supports to the hilt the public protector's directive that President Jacob Zuma pay back public funds which was spend on his private retreat at Nkandla," he said.  – Sapa