Nkandla court case should go ahead for constitutional clarity

2016-02-04
Dr Pieter Mulder

President Zuma’s Nkandla proposal for a settlement is as always too little, too late. It will not resolve the Nkandla problems. That is why the FF Plus is in favour of the court case in the Constitutional Court going ahead. It is necessary that Constitutional Court defines the powers of the Public Protector for once and for all. A settlement out of court will result in the uncertainty about the role of the Public Protector continuing.

For two years President Zuma undermined the Constitution by denying and undermining the powers of the Public Protector. This, while the powers are clearly defined in Section 181 and 182 of the Constitution.

For two years President Zuma wasted the Parliament’s time and money with various commissions and investigations in an attempt not to accept any responsibility for the Nkandla mess.

The only reason for the current settlement proposal of the president is the forthcoming court date and not some sudden new insight and acceptance of accountability. There is a saying that states: “An anxious cat makes anxious leaps.”

Section 181(4) of the Constitution reads: “No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of these institutions (such as the Public Protector).” President Zuma consistently did this.

According to Section 182, the Public Protector has the authority to investigate any improper steps and to “undertake appropriate remedial action”, 182(1)(c). The steps that the Public Protector had taken to remedy the problems were consistently circumvented by President Zuma.

It is important that the Constitutional Court case continues to establish clarity about these issues. It is the only way to prevent a recurrence in future of the past number of years’ Nkandla events.

There is further no guarantee that President Zuma’s settlement proposal will succeed in buying him peace and quiet during the forthcoming State of the Nation Address in Parliament.

 

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