Pretoria - Economic Freedom Fighter Julius Malema has finally changed his tune about dying for President Jacob Zuma.
At the Sunnyside police station yesterday, where he laid charges against Zuma, Malema said he was now willing to die for the constitution. He said: “Since 2005 we have been defending one man. The public protector could not say that Zuma lied to the Parliament because that would lead to direct impeachment. She did not want that on her shoulders.
“She has given South Africans the power to make decisions. That’s why we are here. We are willing to die for the constitution. If Zuma does not resign within 20 working days, we will march to the Union Buildings every day until he does. If the police want to kill us, then we will die.”
The EFF opened racketeering, fraud, corruption and theft of public funds cases against Zuma.
It based the charges on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings that Zuma and his family benefited unduly from the renovations at his Nkandla homestead. She recommended that he repay the money used to build non-security features like the swimming pool, cattle kraal, chicken run and amphitheatre.
In KwaZulu Natal DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane laid a charge of corruption against Zuma yesterday. Maimane said he did so at the Nkandla police station near the president’s private homestead.
“Criminal charges have been laid against President Jacob Zuma at the scene of the crime in Nkandla,” said Maimane.
“There can be no doubt that this Nkandla palace was built on corruption by the president for the president with our money.”
Malema and members of his party’s central command team, including Floyd Shivambu and Dali Mpofu, opened the case in the office of the station commander, not in the normal charge office.
He said the police should investigate all accounts linked to Zuma and his children.
“What you need to know about Zuma is that he does not accept bank deposits, he does not accept cheques. I know, I have worked with him. He only accepts cash.”
Malema said the second accused in the case was Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the third was Zuma’s architect, Minenhle Makhanya. Madonsela found Makhanya received millions of rand in the Nkandla project, but she could not directly investigate him because he was not a public official.
Malema also accused Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga of being an ANC puppet.
“You could see him sitting there (while Madonsela read the report) playing on his phone. You could see he is a troubled soul and he must never be trusted. We must protect the public protector and no one should tamper with her powers.”
Marianne Merten reports that the ANC maintained yesterday that those who abused state money had to be held accountable after probes by “competent state institutions”.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said when the party said “all those found in violation” it included Zuma.
“When we say all, we mean all, we don’t exclude anyone. But let me emphasise the fact that (we mean) people found in violation by the report, not in discussion in the public.”
He emphasised that the biggest problem had been the inflation of prices, and welcomed the fact that the public protector’s findings corresponded to the once-classified Public Works task team report, which said no state money was spent on Zuma’s private residence, while blaming officials for procurement violations leading to the cost escalation.
Mantashe’s comments – and concern that the public protector’s report was released so close to the May 7 elections – came a day after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said a probe by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the matter could well lead to cases being referred to the prosecuting authorities.
The justice minister sidestepped a question whether Zuma would reimburse the national coffers, and instead indicated steps were already under way to draw up the bills for the police and defence to recover costs for certain security upgrades.
Analyst Prince Mashele said Nkandla was the “biggest election issue” as voters would have to decide where they stood, but the ministers’ reaction showed “this government has lost the capacity to be embarrassed”.
For the ANC, he added, it was too late to drop Zuma now.
“The ANC is in a corner… They have to go, limping horse, right to the finish,” he said, adding that the party could “suffer politically” even if it retained a majority in the elections. And for this reason it was unsurprising the ANC highlighted its manifesto promises to fight corruption and establish a central tender board. “They must have something to say.”
Centre for the Study of Democracy director Steven Friedman said the ANC had made a “strategic decision given the corner it is in” to highlight key messages: the security upgrades were necessary, but somebody overspent, and whoever that was would have to be held accountable.
“They (the ANC) will stick to that message throughout the election campaign,” Friedman said, however, adding this could well change after the elections, particularly if polling support dipped.
Nkandla could be “a weapon in informal factional disputes down the line”.
The calls were made when Zuma visited Potchefstroom yesterday.
Other ANC leaders and former exile Ann Ngutshana attacked Madonsela and told her “hands off Zuma”.