Zuma rubbishes refusal to pay back the money as opposition reacts to SONA


President Jacob Zuma has reportedly denounced reports he ever hesitated in paying back a portion of the R246-million spent on security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.

Speaking during a breakfast meeting hosted by The New Age in Cape Town on Friday, Zuma said he was simply waiting for Parliament to determine the correct amount he owed as per the remedial actions of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Secure in Comfort report.

“I do not think there was a change in my view with this matter. The public protector report said there was nothing wrong. But she did say there were a few items she had a view of that did not qualify as security elements and felt the president need to pay back a reasonable amount. She did not say how much,” News24 quoted the President as saying.

“There are many times when I asked how much I must pay back, but no one knows. There was a political perception I am not going to pay. Paying that money is not admitting anything wrong”.

In his first reaction after members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) again disrupted his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament last night, Zuma remarked that only members from the ruling party could decide whether to recall him, not MP’s from the opposition.

This follows after Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said in a pre-event statement that Zuma must hand in his resignation during the SONA.

“They will choose among themselves the one who will lead. The system we are practising - democracy - says the majority prevails. If you are a minority you have your own views and cannot convince the population otherwise,” Zuma said.

“Saying people who have their own views are stupid is not correct. Democracy does not work like that. You will always have those that disagree but how do you handle your views is vital”.

Opposition parties have meanwhile reacted negatively to Zuma’s SONA, with both the EFF and Congress of the People (Cope) leaving the chamber after numerous disruptions.

In a statement, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said Zuma’s admitting to the Constitutional Court earlier this week that he failed to take the correct action regarding Madonsela’s report, prove he is no longer capable of being the President.

“Had the ANC done the moral thing and recalled him, the State of the Nation address would have proceeded with dignity and honour,” Lekota said.

“More and more people have come to realise that President Zuma is not the protector and defender of the constitution but its destroyer. Unlike President Mandela who signed the constitution and staunchly defended it, President Zuma is no champion of the constitution”.

Refering to his party’s existing from the chamber, Lekota said they could no longer respect “a President who openly disdains the constitution”.

“President Zuma has violated the constitution repeatedly and manipulated the justice system to protect himself against prosecution. He has broken his trust to such an extent that it was imperative for us to show our revulsion”.

In a statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Chairperson and Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip, said Zuma’s speech only contained previous promises that lacked vision.

“President Zuma has previously visited the Bay and made grand promises about upgrading the Nooitgedacht low level scheme, solving the water and electricity losses crises, fixing the housing mess, improving social planning, eradicating bucket toilets, fighting corruption and most importantly, creating jobs. As with all ANC promises, these have been broken,” Trollip said.

“The ANC has lost touch with the people, entirely consumed by infighting and factionalism. The very fact that the party is unable to hold a regional conference in Nelson Mandela Bay is confirmation of the disarray in which the organisation finds itself”.