President Zuma’s decision not to respond promptly and comprehensively to Adv Thuli Madonsela’s report on Nkandla undermines both the Public Protector’s office and Parliament.
It is unacceptable for the President to expect the country to wait for an explanation until the Special Investigating Unit has completed its investigation, which may be only in June. The findings of the Public Protector’s inquiry are perfectly clear – there was excessive expenditure on the security upgrades, and millions of rands of taxpayers’ money was spent on private items that should have been paid for by the President himself.
The provisions of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act are equally clear – the President must report to the National Assembly on what action he plans to take within 14 days of receiving the report. Instead, Mr Zuma has chosen to ignore his legal and ethical responsibility to Parliament and to the nation.
We would expect a head of state, when faced with such a scandal, to take the earliest opportunity to provide a full and comprehensive explanation of his own involvement, and of what he plans to do to remedy the situation.
Mr Zuma must tell the nation now, not in June, how and when he plans to pay back the costs of items such as the swimming pool, the chicken run and others that have nothing to do with security.
We are disturbed to read in media reports that the President has claimed that, since he did not personally request such enhancements to his property, he is under no obligation to repay the costs thereof.
Calling to mind the words of the Freedom Charter, “There shall be houses, security and comfort”, we respectfully remind the President that millions of our people continue to live in poverty and that many lack even rudimentary housing or shelter. This makes it all the more scandalous that nearly a quarter of a billion rands could be spent on the security and comfort of one citizen.