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Tue May 31 23:45:11 SAST 2016

Zuma will pay back the money

Ernest Mabuza | 09 February, 2016 16:49
President Zuma's homestead in Nkandla. File photo
Image by: Thembinkosi Dwayisa

President Jacob Zuma will pay back the money but the reasonable amount is yet to be determined.

This was the concession on Tuesday in the Constitutional Court by Zuma's advocate in the case about Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on the upgrades at his private residence in Nkandla.

“We are proposing that which could bring an end to the protracted issue which has traumatised the nation‚” Zuma’s counsel Jeremy Gauntlett SC said.

However‚ Gauntlett was still opposing the orders sought by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA)‚ which both wanted the court to declare that Zuma’s failure to comply with the Public Protector’s report was a breach of the president’s obligations under the Constitution.

Gauntlett said the question also remained as to how much the president had to pay.

In her report on the upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla home published in March 2014 and titled “Secure in Comfort”‚ Madonsela concluded that when security improvements were made at Zuma’s home‚ a number of structures were built at state expense that were not related to security.

Madonsela said the president must‚ with the assistance of the ministers of police and finance‚ determine the reasonable costs of those features and repay to the state a reasonable portion of that amount.

Earlier‚ Advocate William Trengove SC‚ for the EFF‚ argued that Zuma‚ as president‚ had a heightened duty to protect the Constitution. He also argued that Zuma defied the Public Protector in order to protect his "ill-gotten gains".

The Democratic Alliance’s advocate Anton Katz SC said there was defiance against the Public Protector’s findings on the part of the president‚ the National Assembly and the Minister of Police.

“This case goes far deeper than the question of the powers of the Public Protector. It goes to the systemic failure of the government and the National Assembly‚” Katz said.

Counsel for the Public Protector Gilbert Marcus SC said that the Public Protector’s remedial action was binding and enforceable unless set aside on review by a court of law.

He said to hold that the Public Protector’s remedial action was not enforceable‚ would render the institution toothless.

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