President Jacob Zuma found himself in a legal dead alley in the Nkandla case before the Constitutional Court and had no choice but to propose a settlement that will see him repay state money spent on his private home, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday, a week before the matter was due to be heard, Zuma said he would agree to pay a sum to be determined by the auditor general and the finance minister.
James Selfe, the chairperson of the DA’s federal executive, said Zuma’s offer did not go far enough and did not resolve a host of legal issues created by earlier attempts to subvert public protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive that he pay for luxuries added to his home.
“I think after the judgment by the SCA [Supreme Court of Appeal] in the [SABC head Hlaudi] Motsoeneng matter relating to the power and force of the public protector’s remedial action and the fact that a parallel process was found to be unlawful – I think the parallels in this case was clear for all to see,” Selfe said shortly before going into a meeting with the DA’s legal team.
Last year the SCA rejected part of the Cape Town high court ruling which said Madonsela’s rulings regarding Motsoeneng were not binding.
“He (Zuma) has had to extricate himself from legal difficulty but this is not good enough,” said Selfe.
He said the Constitutional Court would have to deal with the fact that Parliament endorsed a report by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, which directly contradicted Madonsela by finding Zuma did not owe the state a cent for a new swimming pool and other contested items because they were vital for his security.
“There are many other legal issues that are not addressed by (Zuma’s) offer (to pay up), among them the fact that Parliament sought to second-guess the public protector and that the police minister’s report has been accepted by Parliament while it clearly has no force in law,” said Selfe. “So there are a number of issues on which the Constitutional Court will have to pronounce.”
He said Zuma’s offer, contained in a letter sent to the registrar of the court on Tuesday, pointed to nervousness on the part of the ANC ahead of the local government elections.
“The other aspect of it is that the local government elections are going to take place and the president is seen as living in a mansion and being cold and unfeeling while most South Africans are living below the poverty line,” he added. – African News Agency (ANA)