Zuma seeks to pay back Nkandla upgrade cash

Jacob  Zuma

Jacob Zuma

JOHANNESBURG. — President Jacob Zuma believes the auditor-general and minister of finance are capable of “independently and impartially” determining how much money he owes for the Nkandla upgrades.

On Tuesday morning‚ a week before the Constitutional Court hears argument on an application on the matter‚ President Zuma asked the court to appoint them to determine the “amount he is to pay”.

On Tuesday night‚ the Presidency said, “(President) Zuma has proposed an end to the drawn-out legal controversy regarding the Public Protector’s March 2014 report on Nkandla‚ ‘Secure in Comfort’”.

Although the statement said the proposal was contained in a letter sent by the “president’s attorneys to the Registrar of the Constitutional Court” that 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 (Democratic Alliance) 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.

“It will 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 President 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 the “(President) 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.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance has rejected President Zuma’s offer for an independent determination of what he should repay for the non-security upgrades at his private home in Nkandla.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane told journalists yesterday that after taking legal advice, his party had decided to proceed with presenting its heads of argument before the Constitutional Court scheduled for next Tuesday.

“In so doing, we will be seeking the relief outlined in our notice of motion,” he said. Maimane said it was important to note that even in its notice of motion, the DA made an argument that, in her report, the Public Protector not only made a determination around costs, but also made a determination that Zuma should reprimand the ministers that were involved in the matter. — Times Live/City Press.

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