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ConCourt orders Zuma to pay back Nkandla money within 45 days

ConCourt orders Zuma to pay back Nkandla money within 45 days

The Constitutional Court has found that President Jacob Zuma failed to uphold and defend the country’s Constitution when he opted to ignore the remedial actions of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla report.

In passing the court’s verdict on the matter brought by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the findings contained in Madonsela’s Secure in Comfort report, which called for Zuma to pay back a portion of the R246-million spent on non-security upgrades, had been binding, and that National Treasury should now determine a reasonable cost to pay back for the additions of a chicken run, cattle kraal, amphitheatre, culvert and swimming pool.

He also ruled that Treasury must report back to the court with is cost determination within 60 days, and that Zuma himself must personally make the payment no less than 45 days after the amount has been passed.

“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 was entitled to enquire about the aspects of the report he declined… only if a court found [that the] Public Protector’s report was wrong, could [the President] not to comply”.

Referring to Madonsela’s powers, Mogoeng remarked that the office of the Public Protector is “pivotal” in the fight against corruption, and that any remedial action imposed by her cannot be ignored without legal consequences.

“The Public Protector is the embodiment of a Biblical David… a crusader of anti-corruption [who] cannot be undermined. [She] is one of the most invaluable gifts to our country’s Constitution,” Mogoeng said.

Taking a swipe at the role of the National Assembly, Mogoeng said it failed to hold Zuma accountable as per the Constitution, adding “it did everything wrong” by replacing Madonsela’s report with that of Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, which cleared the President of paying back the money”.

“The resolution by the National Assembly absolving the president from compliance with the Public Protector's remedial action is inconsistent with the Constitution,” Mogoeng said.

He also ordered that Zuma, Nhleko and the National Assembly pay back the cost of the application as well as those of the two counsels.