945 02.04.2014 ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu and Mmusi Maimane shake hand after the court case agend outside the South Gauteng high court. ANC laid chargers against DA after they send sms’es about Zuma eating the public money. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Johannesburg - The ANC has indicated it will challenge a Johannesburg High Court decision in favour of the DA, which had claimed in a SMS that President Jacob Zuma stole public funds to build his Nkandla home.

The court had ruled this was “fair comment”.

Last month, the DA sent the SMS to more than 1.5 million recipients. It stated: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246 million home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.”

The communication followed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s Nkandla upgrade findings that Zuma and his family benefited unduly from the project.

However, Madonsela did not make any finding of theft by Zuma.

The ANC failed in the Johannesburg High Court last week in an application to interdict the DA from any further dissemination of the SMS.

The party had also wanted the DA to retract the SMS.

The ANC argued before the court that the Electoral Act prohibited parties taking part in the elections from publishing false information.

On Friday, Acting Judge Mike Hellens said he was not persuaded by the ANC’s interpretation of the act, adding he disagreed with the ANC that the act must be interpreted strictly.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said on Monday her party believed the Electoral Court in Bloemfontein would overturn Judge Hellens’s ruling.

Duarte said the ANC believed Judge Hellens “erred in his application of the Electoral Act by being guided by defamation laws in what was an electoral matter”.

“The ANC believes in robust political discourse and in-depth interrogation of issues. However, we maintain that the Electoral Act and the Electoral Code exact a high standard of compliance during elections.”

Duarte said her party would also challenge Judge Hellens’s decision to rule against it for failing to include the outcome of the Nkandla report in its founding affidavits, “but used the contents of the same report to rule against us”.

DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane welcomed the ANC’s intention to appeal.

Meanwhile, Grant Pascoe, one of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s MMCs, has blamed DA leader Helen Zille for his decision to join the ANC. Pascoe accused Zille of allegedly serving the interests of the party’s whites over coloureds and blacks.

He denied accusations he was under investigation over claims of corruption by the municipality.

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The Star