Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma accepted that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings on Nkandla were binding on him, the president's lawyer on Tuesday told the Constitutional Court.
Zuma therefore conceded that he needed to reimburse the taxpayer for a portion of the upgrades to his private homestead, Jeremy Gauntlett told the court after lawyers for the Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance had argued that he had flagrantly breached the law in evading payment.
“We say we accept that the president is required to carry out remedial action. The Public Protector's report has to be complied with,” he told the court.
Gauntlett added that Zuma placed no reliance whatsoever on Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's controversial parallel report on Nkandla that found that he did not owe the state a cent for luxuries added to his house, notably a swimming pool and cattle kraal.
That report was driven through Parliament by the ANC majority. Gauntlett said it was irrelevant and Zuma now had to comply with Madonsela, he said.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked what part of the EFF and DA's arguments the president did not agree with then, given these concessions. Gauntlett replied that there was a recurring “flirtation” in arguments by the two opposition parties as well as the submissions by Madonsela's lawyer, that in fact the benefits that accrued to the president went well beyond the five items Madonsela flagged as non-security items.
This list of five, which included the swimming pool and kraal, were the only items for which Madonsela had sought to hold the president liable in her report “Secure in Comfort”, Guantlett said.