Opposition not satisfied with Zuma Nkandla 'solution' - DA still going to ConCourt
The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday said it will go ahead with its Constitutional Court action against President Jacob Zuma.
The party‚ leader Mmusi Maimane said‚ “notes the settlement offer made by President Zuma but contends that the contents of his settlement offer do not comply with the remedial actions as ordered by the public protector in her report entitled Secure in Comfort”.
“In fact‚ we contend that the president designating the auditor-general to come to a determination as to how much he is liable is the latest attempt to establish a parallel process‚ for a fifth time‚” Maimane said.
The Presidency on Tuesday night issued a statement saying Zuma had asked the Constitutional Court to appoint the auditor-general and minister of finance to “independently and impartially” determine how much money he owes for the Nkandla upgrades.
On Tuesday morning‚ a week before the Constitutional Court is to hear argument on an application on the matter‚ Zuma asked to determine the “amount he is to pay”.
On Tuesday night‚ the Presidency said “Zuma has proposed an end to the drawn-out legal controversy regarding the Public Protector’s March 2014 report on Nkandla‚ ‘Secure in Comfort’”.
Maimane‚ however‚ said on Wednesday morning‚ “the DA will argue that Zuma’s failure to engage rationally with the public protector’s findings and remedial action pertaining to him was manifestly irrational‚ illegal and unconstitutional”.
“We furthermore contend that the president’s decision to substitute the remedial action ordered by the public protector with a determination by the police minister‚ SIU (Special Investigations Unit) or Parliament on whether he was liable for any of the costs was illegal and unconstitutional‚” Maimane added.
“Legal precedent at present‚ as established by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA)‚ is very clear that ‘an individual or body affected by any finding‚ decision or remedial action taken by the Public Protector is not entitled to embark on a parallel investigation process to that of the Public Protector‚ and adopt the position that the outcome of that parallel process trumps the findings taken by the Public Protector’.”
Challenging the findings and remedial actions of the public protector should only proceed “by way of a review application in a court of law”‚ Maimane said‚ adding that Zuma has‚ to date‚ not done so.
“The Constitutional Court will‚ on Tuesday‚ consider this matter in order to provide legal certainty about the public protector’s powers‚” maintained Maimane.
The Presidency statement said that although the proposal was contained in a letter sent by the “president’s attorneys to the Registrar of the Constitutional Court” on Tuesday morning‚ the statement later suggested that the plan had already been presented to - and apparently ignored by - the applicants in the case.
“None of the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters)‚ the DA and the public protector have responded to the president’s proposal‚ which was made in his answering affidavit in November last year‚” the Presidency said.
The EFF did not comment directly on the Presidency statement‚ but issued an invitation to a press conference “to be addressed by the CIC Julius Malema” on Thursday. No further details were given.
The United Democratic Movement’s Bantu Holomisa took to Twitter - @BantuHolomisa - to say: “#ConCourtOnZuma: The CC must proceed to confirm powers of the PP. We reject his ref to AG. PP's remedial actions can't be amended by JZ.” The Congress of the People (Cope) said that “to avoid embarrassment and loss of face in this period of local government elections‚ the President is backtracking”.
Spokesperson Dennis Bloem said: “Cope finds it hard to believe that Zuma is saying to the court that he wants ‘finality in the matter of the Public Protector’s report’.
“His act of ridiculing opposition MPs in parliament should be played before the court to reveal his true inclination on the matter. He still wants to kick the can down the road.
“Cope is not impressed with the further twist that Zuma is putting on the matter. He wants to draw this out further. It would have been more to the point if he voluntarily submitted an obligation to pay and to do so within 30 days.”
Zuma’s statement said it would “now be for the court to decide if the offer is an appropriate basis for an order when the applications are argued on 9 February 2016.”
The EFF and the DA had applied directly to the Constitutional Court‚ claiming that steps taken by Zuma to give effect to the remedial action ordered by the public protector - who is an interested party in the applications - are unconstitutional.
The statement also said “Zuma remains critical of a number of factual aspects and legal conclusions in the report”.
It also said the “irregularities that occurred in the course of upgrades…to the traditional family home the President has had at Nkandla for many years…continue to be investigated in separate inquiries relating to officials and professional consultants on the project”. The Presidency also stressed that the public protector’s report “specifically found no wrongdoing of any kind by the president”.
“To achieve an end to the drawn-out dispute in a manner that meets the public protector’s recommendations and is beyond political reproach‚ the president proposes that the determination of the amount he is to pay should be independently and impartially determined‚” the statement said.
“Given the objection by one of the parties to the involvement of SAPS (South African Police Service)‚ as the public protector herself had required‚ the auditor-general and minister of finance be requested by the court‚ through appropriate designees‚ to conduct the exercise directed by the Public Protector.”
A video produced by the SAPS justifying the security upgrades was widely lambasted.
“The president also 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 DA and the EFF have misinterpreted and/or are manipulating the public protector’s report for the purposes of political expediency.”