ConCourt lessons for Zuma: How to be presidential

The Constitutional Court. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Constitutional Court. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Constitutional Court today not only ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back the money spent on non-security upgrades at Nkandla, but also schooled him on presidential behaviour.

Some presidential tips from Chief Justice Mogoeng, taken from the judgment:

  1. The President should never never forget that he has the constitutional obligation to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic has been expressly imposed.
  2. Always keep in mind that the entire country has entrusted you with executive authority.   National legislation is in your hands and you give the final stamp of approval – so you cannot be the one flouting the laws of the land. 
  3. Mr President you are a constitutional being by design, a national pathfinder, the quintessential commander-in-chief of State affairs and the personification of this nation’s constitutional project.
  4. And you have to ensure that our constitutional democracy thrives.
  5. Mr President you failed and were hence weren’t presidential when you did not comply with the remedial action ascribed by the Public Protector in her report of 19 March 2014.
  6. In this you were inconsistent with your duty to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic.
  7. Your disregard for the remedial action taken against you does seem to amount to a breach of your constitutional obligation.
  8. Mr President it thus ill-behoves you to have acted in any manner inconsistent with what the Constitution requires you under all circumstances.
  9. The President is expected to endure graciously and admirably and fulfill all obligations imposed on you, however unpleasant.
  10. When the Public Protector acted it was not against the Executive or State organs in general, but against you, Mr President. 
  11. Compliance was required only from you, Mr President. 
  12. You were the subject of the investigation and the primary beneficiary of the non-security upgrades and thus the only one required to meet the demands of the constitutionally sourced remedial action.
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession. Read more from Athandiwe Saba

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