Johannesburg - The SMS the DA sent to voters stating public funds were “stolen” to upgrade President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla residence was fair comment, Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said on Wednesday.
“(There was) nothing untoward about what we said. R250 million of taxpayers' money was wasted on Nkandla,” he told reporters at the High Court in Johannesburg.
“We feel the SMS was fair comment.”
The ANC wants the court to compel the DA to comply with the Electoral Act and not publish what it will argue was false information.
This was in response to the SMS sent by the opposition party which the ANC claimed was a “deliberate lie” and targeted Zuma.
The text message, which Maimane said was sent to 1.6m prospective voters in Gauteng, read: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.”
Last month, the DA said it welcomed the court challenge.
“We feel it is unfortunate the case was brought by the African National Congress,” Maimane said.
“(It's) because Gauteng is close and the ANC knows they might lose this province, they took it to court. Nkandla is a poster for corruption in this country.”
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, speaking outside courtroom 9F, said the DA was misleading the public.
“This was misleading and (a) false accusation on the president,” he said.
“There is no such finding in the public protector's report that the president stole money. The public protector says... the president used his own money to build Nkandla... the DA falsely accused the president.”
The courtroom was filled with reporters and several DA supporters wearing blue T-shirts.
Before proceedings began, around 25 DA supporters holding posters and placards waited outside the court to show their support. Some left while others went into the court as heavy rain fell in the Johannesburg CBD.
In her report “Secure in Comfort”, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from security upgrades to his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. She recommended that a percentage of the money be repaid.
Zuma was expected to give his reply to Madonsela's report to Parliament on Wednesday, 14 days after its release. - Sapa