ConCourt ruling welcomed by Opposition

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 31, 2016

Opposition parties have welcomed the Constitutional Court’s ruling that President Jacob Zuma acted against the Constitutuion when he chose to ignore the remedial actions of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla report.

In passing the court’s verdict on Thursday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the findings contained in Madonsela’s Secure in Comfort report were binding, and that the President needs to pay back a percentage of the R246-million spent on non-security upgrades at his private homestead, which include a chicken run, cattle kraal, amphitheatre, culvert and swimming pool.

“When remedial action is binding, compliance is not optional. It cannot be ignored without legal consequences. The President only needed to comply, [but] he failed to assist the independence Public Protector,” Mogoeng said.

He also stated that the amount, which would be determined by National Treasury within the next 60 days, must be paid by Zuma personally no less than 45 days after being deemed satisfactory by the court.

Speaking in a statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane described the verdict as “a victory for the Constitution, the rule of law and the people of South Africa”, adding that the party had already submitted a motion to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, to have a motion of impeachment against Zuma discussed in Parliament.

“This pivotal judgment confirms the DA’s long held contention that President Zuma seriously violated the Constitution when he sought to undermine the Public Protector’s remedial actions by instituting parallel investigative processes, and his subsequent failure to implement her remedial action,” Maimane said, referring to the report of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, which Zuma of being held liable for the upgrades.

“Our Constitution is binding on all organs of state, including the President. To have ignored a constitutional organ, in the form of the Public Protector, for over two years, and to have employed a series of stratagems to “second guess” and “ignore” the Public Protector required judicial action”.

Addressing the media at its Braamfontein offices shortly after the verdict had been given, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said the judgement is a clear indication that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) needs to recall Zuma as President with immediate effect.

“We must do the right thing and recall President Zuma… South Africans must take to the streets and demand the removal of President Zuma,” Malema said.

Waving a copy of the Constitutuion as cameras clicked away in the background, a visibly annoyed Malema stated that Parliament has failed its mandate to hold Zuma accountable for his actions, and that it also needs to be dissolved.

“How can Parliament preside over an Executive and other arms of the state which has permanently violated the Constitutuion? That Parliament has failed our people. How can that Parliament be taken seriously when it has rendered a Chapter Nine institution useless?” Malema said.

“Parliament has failed this democracy, the people of the South Africa and the Constitutuion. That is why we need early elections… if they (government) are sure about their stories, let’s vote now and have South Africans vote for people who respect the Constitutuion and Chapter Nine institutions”.

Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson has described Madonsela’s office as “gift to the nation”, saying the ruling also flies in the face of the ANC in Parliament.

“The action of the ANC in the National Assembly to second guess the Public Protector was in breach of the Constitution. As such, it was a significant failure on its part to scrutinise the executive,” he said.

“Zuma no longer has any moral authority to remain in the highest office. He must go immediately for dismally failing to uphold the Constitution. As for ANC MPs who supported the vote to whitewash the Nkandla scandal, it is important that they tender their resignation. They failed the nation in a most serious manner”.

Responding to the judgement, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said it respect the court’s ruling and its authority as the “guardian of the Constitution of the Republic”, but that the party would be studying the verdict closer before making any further comments.