Public Protector powers are binding‚ EFF's Trengove tells Constitutional Court
The case that seeks to give legal certainty about the powers of the Public Protector and the effect of remedial action taken by the office got under way in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday morning.
The court began hearing arguments from the Economic Freedom Fighters‚ which last year asked the court to declare that the National Assembly had failed to fulfil its constitutional obligation to ensure that all executive organs of state were accountable to it in that it failed to ensure that President Jacob Zuma complied with the remedial action recommended by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Counsel for the EFF Wim Trengove SC started by arguing on Tuesday that the constitutional power that the Public Protector has to take appropriate action included a power to make binding remedial orders.
The EFF also wanted the court to declare that Zuma‚ as head of the national executive‚ had failed to fulfil his constitutional obligations to implement the findings and remedial action in the public protector’s report. The party also wants the court to direct Zuma to comply with the remedial action ordered by Madonsela within 30 days of the court order.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is also before the court‚ where it is expected to 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.
The DA is also expected to argue that Zuma’s decision to substitute the remedial action ordered by the Public Protector with a decision that the Police Minister had to report on whether he was liable for any of the costs was illegal and unconstitutional.
The applications follow the publication of a report by the Public Protector in March 2014 titled “Secure in Comfort”‚ in which she recommended that Zuma pay back a portion of the money spent on upgrades at his Nkandla home that were not for security purposes. She found these upgrades to include the swimming pool‚ visitor’s centre‚ cattle kraal and a chicken run.
Both the president and the National Assembly took steps which in their view amounted to compliance with the Public Protector’s remedial action. In addition‚ Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko produced a report which exonerated the president from any liability.
The EFF and DA contend that the measures taken by the president and the National Assembly fall short of compliance with the Public Protector’s remedial report.
- TMG Digital/TMG Courts and Law