Zuma needs to go over Nkandla: opposition
Seven opposition parties vowed to step up a campaign to drive President Jacob Zuma from office, after the ANC adopted a report that clears him of responsibility for misspending on his Nkandla homestead.
Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said minority party MPs would call for Zuma's removal during the debate on the Nkandla report in the National Assembly because by defying the public protector's findings he had violated the Constitution.
Calling the impasse on Nkandla a “crisis”, Maimane told a media briefing they would stick to plans of a court bid to force the president to reimburse the state for the refurbishment of his home in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
“I think we have a case in law,” he said.
“Until such time as Jacob Zuma accounts for the massive undue benefit he received personally at Nkandla, the threat of legal action against him will remain front and centre in our programme of action.”
He then quipped: “I think the hashtag must be #Zumamustgo.”
The report adopted by an ad hoc committee of Parliament made up entirely of ANC MPs after the opposition withdrew, relied heavily on a recent Western Cape High Court judgment to reject Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings that Zuma had been enriched and must repay the state for a portion of the R246 million project.
Madonsela plans to challenge Judge Ashton Schippers's ruling that her orders of remedial action are not binding though they could not be ignored without rational grounds.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said once the Constitutional Court had heard the review, the opposition coalition would go to court to force Zuma to comply with her findings.
“Clearly the Constitutional Court will give priority to that... Whatever flows from that outcome will enable us to take our matter forward.”
Maimane added that the ANC's reasoning was spurious and said the party could not get away with relying on the Schippers judgment because Zuma had failed to engage with Madonsela's report, memorably writing in a submission to Parliament that he refused to comment on it.
His colleagues from the Economic Freedom Fighters, AgangSA, the Freedom Front Plus, the United Democratic Movement, and the African Christian Democratic Party one by one expressed disgust with the Nkandla project and Zuma's handling of it.
“It can't be right whether you are in the ANC or in another political party, it can't be right that President Jacob Zuma's cows live in a kraal that is actually ten times more than the price of an RDP house, or maybe more. It is wrong,” said UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.
“I don't mind if he does it at his own expense, but it is at our expense, the taxpayer's expense.”
He said politicians had a duty to their voters to protect state resources from abuse, and therefore the opposition would press Zuma to return to Parliament to answer questions on Nkandla.
The president has not addressed the National Assembly since he was heckled over Nkandla by the EFF on August 21. When opposition parties raised this point last week, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa scolded them for being disrespectful to Zuma.
Kwankwa said: “We have a crisis here where the president refuses to come to Parliament to answer questions because it has gotten to the point where he feels that his ego is actually more important than the Constitution of the country.”
Pieter Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus said the parties would seek a vote of no confidence in Zuma but believed they were within their rights to call on the National Assembly to remove him from office in terms of section 89 of the Constitution.
He conceded that since this required a two-thirds majority vote, the chances of achieving their aim were remote.
Mulder cautioned that ANC voters was trying to sell voters “garlic toothpaste” by absolving Zuma from responsibility for overspending at Nkandla, and Agang's Andries Tlouamma weighed in that the president had become an embarrasment.
Earlier this week the opposition added another prong to their attack on the president when Maimane put pressure on Police Minister Nathi Nhleko over corruption charges against Zuma brought by the DA and EFF in March.