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Sun May 29 13:31:30 CAT 2016

Madonsela meets with legal team over Zuma Nkandla proposal

Jenni Evans and Genevieve Quintal | 03 February, 2016 16:10
The homestead of President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla on November 14, 2013. File photo
Image by: Tebogo Letsie

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela met with her legal team on Wednesday to discuss President Jacob Zuma's surprise proposal regarding paying back taxpayer money spent on his private residence in Nkandla.

"She met with legal representatives today," said Oupa Segalwa, communications manager at the Office of the Public Protector.

Madonsela is expected to indicate how she feels about Zuma's latest move in a statement to be issued later on Wednesday.

Zuma announced late on Tuesday night that he would be willing to pay back an amount determined by the Auditor-General Thembekile Kimi Makwetu and Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan through an order of the Constitutional Court.

The purpose of the people appointed would be to calculate the portion of the cost of the multi-million rand upgrades at Nkandla not related to security.

"Once the exercise has been completed and a figure determined, the president has repeatedly indicated both before this court and before Parliament that... he is willing to be bound by the outcome of a fair and objective process," his lawyers said in a letter lodged with the registrar of the court.

"He reiterated his willingness to repay any figure so determined," his legal team said in the letter.

Not appropriate for SAPS to be involved

This was after Madonsela's report, Secure in Comfort, recommended Zuma pay back a reasonable portion of the R246m spent on upgrades to his Nkandla homestead not related to security, such as the swimming pool, cattle kraal, chicken run, visitors' centre and amphitheatre.

His lawyers also attached a draft order for the court.

The Economic Freedom Fighters approached the Constitutional Court to compel Zuma to implement Madonsela's recommendations regarding the upgrades. The matter is expected to be heard on Tuesday, February 9.

The Democratic Alliance and the Public Protector joined the court action.

In the letter to the court, Zuma's lawyers said the president, given the challenge to the report prepared by the police minister regarding the security upgrades, recognised that it would no longer be appropriate for the SA Police Service to be involved.

It was also not be appropriate for Zuma himself to make a determination.

The lawyers said the president hoped the proposal would "assist in ensuring the expeditious finalisation" of the matter.

The African National Congress said Zuma's offer was acceptable, but the opposition Democratic Alliance said it was laughable, considering that for over a year in Parliament, Zuma had laughed at any questions on the topic or demands that he abide by the Public Protector's recommendations.

Source: News24

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