/ 31 March 2016

ANC, politicians react to ConCourt’s Nkandla ruling

Last week the Constitutional Court handed down a momentous ruling on freedom of speech.
Last week the Constitutional Court handed down a momentous ruling on freedom of speech.

Many people celebrated the Constitutional Court on Thursday that ruled that President Jacob Zuma must pay back the money spent on non-security features of his Nkandla home.

Many went as far as to say they believed the judgment meant that Zuma must either resign, or be impeached.

The Public Protector
Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga, who attended the court hearing as Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s representative, was overjoyed about the Constitutional Court’s finding on the Nkandla matter.      

“This is a great day for the Public Protector as an institution, but it is also a great day for South Africa…I have always said the public protector has teeth and they are not false teeth, in other words we are a watch dog, and we take everything seriously as we do our work,” he said.  

Malunga also described the Public Protector as “the best friend of government”.  

“We are extremely proud, this was a beautiful judgment by Chief Mogoeng […] 50 years from now we want to see a stronger Public Protector and a stronger institution,” he said. 

In delivering the Nkandla judgment in the Constitutional Court todat, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng also dealt with the powers of the Public Protector with regards to her remedial actions, saying specifically that her remedial actions against Zuma are binding.  

He also said that Madonsela was the “embodiment of a Biblical David […] who fights the most powerful and very well-resourced Goliath that impropriety and corruption by government officials are”.

He further described Madonsela as a “constitutional gift” to South Africa.

Madonsela found in her report Secure in Comfort, released in March 2014, that Zuma had unduly benefited from some of the upgrades. Madonsela found that, while the upgrades at Zuma’s home were meant to be exclusively security upgrades, millions more were spent on features such as an ampitheatre, visitor’s centre, cattle kraal, chicken kraal and swimming pool. She recommended that he repay a reasonable portion of the R246m spent on the upgrades, and that the ministers involved in the project be reprimanded.

Reactions – Zuma must go
DA leader Mmusi Maimane called for President Jacob Zuma to be impeached following the Constitutional Court’s finding that he had flouted the Constitution.

“This morning we have already filed a motion to say Zuma must be impeached because he is unfit, and it is quite clear that the court’s judgment vindicates our decision,” Maimane told reporters in Johannesburg after Mogoeng handed down the court’s unanimous judgment on Thursday morning.

Maimane said he hoped South Africans would be able to recoup the tax money that was “wasted by President Zuma for his undue benefit”.

“Ultimately, Zuma must be removed from office,” Maimane said.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema told reporters that Zuma should step down immediately.

“Zuma’s journey ends here… Zuma’s case ends here. Anyone who wants to question this matter any further would be questioning the court,” he said.

“We call on Zuma to step down and to do that with immediate effect.”

Malema said the ANC should recall Zuma, or else the EFF would table a motion of impeachment in Parliament.

AfriForum spokesperson Ernst Roets called for action and said that the only thing to do was for Zuma to step down.

“The only honourable option left to President Zuma is to relinquish his responsibilities as President of the Republic of South Africa and resign,” he said.

“The public’s trust in the President, within and outside South Africa, will never be restored.”

Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said that Zuma thinks he is a chief and South Africans are his subjects.

“[He is] entitled to that R250m… he liberated us, he went to prison, he went to exile. Why are we complaining about small change of money?” Vavi told reporters after the Constitutional Court ruling on the Nkandla matter.

“That is what I think is in his mind, that he is the chief and we are the subjects.”

Vavi said the court’s ruling was a reminder to Zuma that he was not above the law.

“Today he’s been reminded that we fought for this tenet in this Constitution that says no one is above the law and that all are equal.”

Vavi said Zuma and his ministers had violated their oaths of office and undermined everything the “real ANC” stood for.

“They have no choice, they must go. The National Assembly, all of those ANC MPs must hang their heads in shame, they must go. The Cabinet must go. Everyone who had been giving the president a round of applause must go with him.”

The ANC in Parliament said it would abide by the Constitutional Court’s judgment, but first it needed to study it carefully before giving a more detailed response, the office of chief whip said on Thursday.

“We will therefore duly study the judgment, including a proper dissection and comprehension on its far-reaching implications on how Parliament conducts its constitutional function in future,” spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.

“In the interim, we accept without reservations the orders made in the judgment, particularly as they relate to Parliament, and therefore we will ensure they are fully realised.”

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement that the party had noted the unanimous judgment.

“The Constitutional Court is and remains the guardian of the Constitution of the Republic and the final arbiter on matters before it, hence the ANC welcomes the clarity provided by the Court on the binding nature of the powers of the Public Protector,” he said.

The Constitutional Court ruling
Earlier on, the court found that President Jacob Zuma acted inconsistently with the Constitution when he failed to comply with the Public Protector’s remedial action on the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead. 

Mogoeng said in the unanimous judgment: “The president failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.”

Mogoeng said Zuma and the National Assembly had acted incorrectly when they decided to set aside Madonsela’s report, which recommended that Zuma pay back some of the money used for upgrades to his Nkandla home.  “The failure by the president to comply with remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector […]  is inconsistent with the Constitution […] and is invalid,” Mogoeng said. – News24 (Edited by Michelle Solomon)