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Sat Jun 25 16:05:06 SAST 2016

Zuma's judgment day dawns

Ernest Mabuza | 30 March, 2016 00:22
The EFF and DA asked the court in February to rule on the failure by the president and parliament to implement the public protector's findings on the Nkandla upgrades. File photo
Image by: Tebogo Letsie

President Jacob Zuma faces another tense day tomorrow while he waits for the Constitutional Court's judgment on the upgrading of his Nkandla home.

The judgment is expected, among other things, to clarify the powers of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who was ignored and vilified during her attempts to have Zuma pay for upgrades to his home unrelated to security.

Opposition parties are expected to use the court judgment, if it pronounces unfavourably on Zuma's alleged failure to uphold the constitution, as a basis for impeaching him.

Madonsela found in her report that the president and his family benefited unduly from upgrades, not related to security, at the homestead. She said that the president had to repay some of the public money used for the upgrades.

Other reports were then used by the government to challenge the findings of the public protector.

But tomorrow is judgment day and Zuma's. His fate could very well be determined by what emerges from the judgment.

The EFF and DA asked the court in February to rule on the failure by the president and parliament to implement the public protector's findings on the Nkandla upgrades.

The EFF also 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 by failing to ensure that Zuma complied with the actions stipulated by Madonsela.

In another application, the EFF asked the court to rule that Zuma, as head of the national executive, had failed to fulfil his constitutional obligation to implement the findings and remedial action called for by the public protector in her report.

They want the court to order Zuma to comply with the actions specified by Madonsela within 30 days of a court order.

When the matter was heard in the Constitutional Court on February 9, Zuma's legal counsel said the president would repay some of the money to the state.

Jeremy Gauntlett SC, acting for Zuma, asked the court not to rule on the EFF and DA applications.

He said it was not necessary for the court to make a ruling on the powers of the public protector when the Supreme Court of Appeal had ruled in a different case last year that her findings were binding.

"Legal certainty about the powers of the public protector, and the force and effect of remedial action taken by the public protector, are vital to the successful functioning of South Africa's constitutional democracy," the DA said yesterday.

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