Bloemfontein - The National Assembly has the final say on the Public Protector's report about the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's home at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said on Friday.
“It would be very difficult for a court to force the president to do more now,” De Vos replied to a question about what more could be done to compel Zuma to give an immediate, substantial response to the report.
He said a court would have difficulty, especially after the president had said he had some sort of explanation and was awaiting further information before reacting to the report.
“It is now more of a political issue than a legal issue.”
De Vos said that until now, although Zuma had followed the Executive Members' Ethics Act to the letter, he had not complied with its spirit.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recently found that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from the R246 million upgrades made to Nkandla.
“It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the president and his family in his private 1/8home 3/8, a visitors' centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool, and amphitheatre among others,” Madonsela said in the report.
She gave Zuma two weeks to give Parliament his response to the report, which meant Wednesday was the deadline.
Zuma did so, but not in substance. The presidency said he told Parliament he would “further report” on “decisive executive interventions” on his private Nkandla home.
This would be after a report by the Special Investigating Unit, which he had directed to probe the security upgrades at Nkandla.
De Vos said Zuma should account now to the National Assembly.
It was the only body which could hold the president accountable in terms of the Protector's report, and it could do so via many avenues.
It could get Zuma to address MPs to give his explanation about his involvement in the Nkandla upgrades.
It could also hold Zuma politically accountable.
“In the extreme case it could hold the president accountable by firing the president,” said De Vos.
Practically, this would require a decision by the African National Congress's national executive committee.
De Vos said parties should be careful about involving a court in a political issue. Politics should be sorted out in the political area, he said.
The Protector's office has also said the report is now in the hands of Parliament, to act on through its own internal processes.
“It is for Parliament to review the appropriateness of his (Zuma's) response,” said spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi.