Opposition slams Zuma’s Nkandla payback proposal


Opposition parties have lashed out at President Jacob Zuma’s proposed decision to have the auditor-general and Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, determine the amount he should pay back on the R246-million security upgrades at his private Nkandla home.

In a surprise statement on Tuesday evening, the Presidency said Zuma, while still critical of the recommendations contained in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Secure in Comfort report, would leave the final decision up to Gordhan and Kimi Makwetu, so as to have the matter resolved independently.

The announcement comes less than week before the Constitutional Court is due to rule on whether Zuma correctly implemented the recommendations of Madonsela’s now two year old report, which called for him to pay back a reasonable percentage of the money spent.

“President Zuma supports the need for finality in the matter of the Public Protector’s report. However, he believes and contends in his affidavits filed in court that the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have misinterpreted and/or are manipulating the Public Protector’s report for the purposes of political expediency,” the Presidency said.

“Given the objection by one of the parties to the involvement of police, the auditor-general and Minister of Finance [have been] requested by the court, through appropriate designees, to conduct the exercise directed by the Public Protector”.

Addressing the media outside Parliament on Wednesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party would proceed with the hearing “as Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) have done everything to undermine to the work of the Public Protector and the Constitution”.

“President Jacob Zuma stood here in Parliament and told the people of South Africa that 'I won’t pay back the money'. He laughed off the matter when we asked the question in Parliament,” News24 quoted him as saying.

“He is not above the Constitution and he must personally account for it. We are confident that the Constitutional Court will bring the Nkandla matter to its logical conclusion by determining that President Zuma do what the Secure in Comfort report ordered; pay back a reasonable percentage of the costs of non-security upgrades”.

In a similar reaction, EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the sudden announcement proves that Zuma is trying to avoid justice”.

“He is not responding out of the goodness of his heart or out of understanding the importance of respecting the remedial action and recommendations of the Public Protector,” he told Eyewitness News.

In a strongly worded reaction, Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem stated that Zuma must vacate his office as he “is a president without any moral authority whatsoever”.

“President Zuma must stop taking the nation for fools. He saw what was being built over many months. He put pressure on his ministers to deliver the end product quickly. He expected to get away with it knowing that he had his cabinet and the caucus in his back pocket,” Bloem said.

“This sorry saga he will only end if President Zuma and his blind supporters in the ruling party dig deep into their pockets and recompense taxpayers for the millions extravagantly spent on the homestead”.