Zuma’s proposal to decide how much he has to pay back for Nkandla upgrades came to many as a surprise. But, The Democratic Alliance has simply described the move by the president as simply “laughable”. Zuma had earlier requested the finance minister and auditor-general to come up with the amount he would pay.
The president made this known in a letter sent through his lawyer to the constitutional court which reads in part,
“The president proposes that designated appointees… be appointed within 30 days of date of order to determine the reasonable portion of the reasonable cost of those features of the Nkandla upgrade project not reasonably related to security…”
However, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that the president only agreed to pay back for Nkandla upgrades because of the political comments that trailed his previous decision not to pay. Not only that, he maintained that Zuma must have also agreed to pay because of the upcoming local government elections.
“President Jacob Zuma stood here in Parliament and told the people of South Africa that ‘I won’t pay back the money’. He laughed off the matter when we asked the question in Parliament,” Maimane said.
“President Zuma is not above the Constitution and he must personally account for it. His head of arguments in the… [Constitutional Court] says he always intended to pay, but that is the exact opposite of what he had said.”
“And now for him to stand in front of the country and say he was intending to pay is quite simply laughable.”
“He [Zuma] reiterated his willingness to repay any figure so determined,” according to his legal team in the letter. Nevertheless, The Democratic Alliance leader said that Zuma will still appear before the constitutional court on the 9th February. He said that the party had no choice to further their arguments against the president after meeting with the party’s legal team.
“We are confident that the Constitutional Court will bring the Nkandla matter to its logical conclusion by determining that President Zuma do what the “Secure in Comfort” report by the public protector ordered, which is that he pay back a reasonable percentage of the costs of the non security upgrades to his private residence” said Maimane.
Speaking further, he said, “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 Investigating Unit] or Parliament on whether he was liable for any of the costs was illegal and unconstitutional.”
Also, The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has made efforts to make the Constitutional Court to force Zuma to carry out recommendations presented by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela regarding the upgrades.
Maimane also believes that the president will likely be embarrassed at the State of the Nation Address if he loses the constitutional case on Tuesday. Not only that, he would also be forced to pay back for Nkandla home.
The president however believes that any amount determined by the minister of finance and the auditor general would “assist in ensuring the expeditious finalization.”