President Jacob Zuma has angered senior figures in the ANC after ignoring advice from its national executive committee to take the Public Protector’s Nkandla report on judicial review, says a Sunday Times report. According to the report, it has emerged for the first time that Zuma also ignored advice from party structures and senior leaders as far back as two years ago to pay back a portion of the R246m spent on his Nkandla home. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe reportedly told the paper the NEC had in 2014 – just before the general elections – advised Zuma to take Thuli Madonsela’s Secure in Comfort report to court for review. But Zuma instead assigned Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to compile his discredited report that concluded that the President was not liable for any money spent at his private home. ‘It was the NEC that made that decision (to take Madonsela’s report for review),’ Mantashe is quoted as saying. Party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa reportedly said the NEC had also advised that the inter-ministerial task team report on Nkandla be taken on review. ‘(Madonsela and the inter-ministerial task team) made reports which were almost the same in content but with different determinations. We made the decision as the ANC to take both reports on review. That advice was not followed,’ said Kodwa. The Sunday Times says it understands that in 2014, just after Madonsela released her report, Zuma was advised by his legal team not to take the report for judicial review because a court finding affirming the findings would be disastrous for him. A well-placed source reportedly told the newspaper the advice was that such a finding would be grounds for impeachment. An ANC MP said it would be difficult to defend Zuma should the opposition push for his impeachment. ‘He (Zuma) might see this as a victory today, but there are far-reaching consequences. I don’t know how the Speaker will avoid setting up an inquiry into the fitness of the President to hold office.’
The ANC, though, takes flak over Nkandla in a BDlive report. The party’s failure to recall Zuma for violating ‘his oath of office by omission and commission’ makes the ANC ‘subject … to legal action as well’, according to COPE’s Dennis Bloem, who said Zuma ‘allowed ANC Ministers‚ Deputy Ministers and MPs to frustrate‚ belittle and attack the Public Protector in clear violation … of the Constitution’. The ANC-led government did nothing in the last two years ‘to ensure the independence‚ impartiality‚ dignity and effectiveness’ of this Chapter 9 institution‚’ said Bloem. ‘In fact‚ it acted repeatedly in contradistinction to those constitutional requirements.’ He added that the ANC knew that Zuma violated his oath of office by omission and commission. Their failure to recall him must therefore subject all of them to legal action as well, Bloem said. ‘The supreme law of the land must remain sacrosanct and MPs and Ministers who will continue to buttress the President in the face of his undermining the Constitution‚ will have to be charged for failing their respective oaths of office too. It is untenable for President Zuma to remain in office. The MPs and Ministers who are continuing to prop him up are committing an illegal action,’ he said.
The matter is in the hands of the ANC’s integrity committee, which will soon have to make a decision and does not need to wait for the court process to run its course. Committee chair Andrew Mlangeni reportedly told Business Day yesterday that although the matter was before court, the committee did not have to wait for the court processes to wrap up before making its own assessment. However, it had not decided whether or not it would look into the matter. The report says Nkandla is likely to be a major test for the integrity committee, set up in 2013 to call to order members and leaders who face allegations of improper conduct. The committee’s effectiveness has previously been called into question, but the ANC took a decision at last year’s national general council to beef up its powers.
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