It’s clear now that the president did in fact lie to Parliament about Nkandla, says Max du Preez.
I put it to you, Mr President, you did lie to Parliament. Telling a fib or two while electioneering or through one’s spin-doctor is one thing.
Standing up –more than once – in the highest policy-making body in the land, the chamber where those people we citizens elected to be our voice meet, and telling untruths is close to the worst political sin.
In 1979, State President John Vorster had to resign in disgrace after he was found to have lied to Parliament about not knowing about the taxpayers’ money the Department of Information spent. Even the ruling party and the government during apartheid regarded this as a mortal sin.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Jacob Zuma had not “wilfully” lied to Parliament. She blinked or perhaps she decided to add that so that the ANC and government were not pushed over the edge in their reaction to her report. From the rest of her report, she makes it abundantly clear that she thought he had lied to Parliament.
Zuma told Parliament he and his family built the homestead at Nkandla with no contribution from taxpayers and that he had nothing to do with or any knowledge of the “security upgrades”.
We know now that Zuma flies to Nkandla most weekends and did so when the “upgrades” were in progress. We know that his personal architect was in charge of the building and the upgrades at Nkandla.
We know that at different stages he complained or gave advice on the speed and nature of the “upgrades”.
We know now, as he knew all along, that the “firepool” wasn’t just a water reservoir, but a luxurious swimming pool. Any other citizen who has a swimming pool regards it as part of his home and property.
We know now, as Zuma knew all along, that other parts of the “security upgrades” had nothing to do with security, but simply added to the value of the Nkandla mansion.
You decide: Did Jacob Zuma not wilfully lie when he swore to Parliament that he did not know the details nor the benefit of taxpayers’ money spent on Nkandla?
The first thing the ANC latched on to when it responded to the Nkandla report was that it had found Zuma did not lie to Parliament. It was the one phrase it needed to deflect pressure for the party to sanction its leader.
But the men and women at Luthuli House know as well as I do that Zuma is now officially in the same class of African leaders as Mobutu sese Seko, Felix Houphouët-Boigny and Robert Mugabe.
The ANC’s chairman in North West, Supra Mahumapelo, spoke for many when he said at the weekend: “They say Zuma is our president. We see him as our king. In the African tradition, a king must always be respected and embraced by everybody, regardless.”
That, fellow citizens, is exactly what the post-Polokwane leadership of the ANC has done to the liberation movement, to the 102-year-old party of Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela.
Power, privilege and sectional interest are regarded as more valuable than the Freedom Charter, the 1994 settlement and the 1996 constitution.
No wonder there are more millionaires with the surname Zuma today than with any other surname anywhere in Africa. That is what a king’s family is entitled to.
The ANC leadership and that of the Communist Party, the ANC Youth League, the ANC Women’s League, the MK Military Veterans Association and the Congress of South African Students are happy with that. They reserved their fury and insults for the brave public protector.
When the Nkandla Report was made public, I tweeted that a free media had exposed the scandal and an institution of the state had confirmed it and nailed the head of state.
Failed state, my foot. Most people who reacted said it would depend on what action would be taken.
We know nothing is going to happen. But I’ll still bet my bottom dollar that Zuma will not serve his full second term; that the ANC will have to get rid of him well before the 2019 election.
Civil society should push hard for the more than 700 criminal charges against him to be reinstated, because we know, without a doubt, that the decision to drop them was political and not legal.
Much of the evidence had been accepted by the high court already, in the case against Schabir Shaik, so the prospects of a jail sentence are real.
It is time to play hardball with the man that is disgracing us as a nation.
* Max du Preez is an author and columnist.
** The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Newspapers.