Cope LogoOver the past seven years, President Zuma continued to be contemptuous of the Constitution. As a result of his failed leadership and the power he exerted over cabinet ministers, the people of South Africa have lost confidence in the executive. The sham investigation carried out by Nkosinathi Nhleko ended with his declaring that the President had to pay nothing for the upgrades at Nkandla.

After the release of her report, Secure in Comfort, the Public Protector took a severe and unwarranted battering from the ruling party.

The legislature suffered serious reputational loss by ignoring the Public Protector’s report and ramrodding the Nhleko report through parliament. Their supine pandering to the president and their complicity and willingness in declaring an expensive swimming pool as a fire pool will remain ignominious for ever. The brazen charade of cabinet and of parliament made a mockery of our constitution and of our democracy. Truth suffered and the image of politics was tarnished. The fact that the whole of the ANC caucus went along with the charade was too painful to bear. Surely someone in the caucus should have had courage and integrity enough to ask Zuma to resign and to face the consequence of being principled.

Opposition parties and the Public Protector had to go to court to get clarity on the extent to which the recommendations of the Public Protector were binding. The outcome was a victory for the constitution and a slap in the face for John Jeffries, Mathole Motshekga and others who were willing to subvert the constitution and render the findings of the Public Protector meaningless.

Now there is panic within the ANC. To avoid embarrassment and loss of face in this period of local government elections, the President is backtracking. The best thing he could do is to resign. He is a president without any moral authority whatsoever.

Zuma is now suggesting that the auditor general and minister of finance be requested, by the court, “to conduct the exercise directed by the public protector.”

The public must not forget that two ministers of Public Works were unceremoniously fired and that President Zuma had a powerful influence in getting his personal architect to take charge of the project with carte blanche authority. President Zuma must stop taking the nation for fools. He saw what was being built over many months. He put pressure on his ministers to deliver the end product quickly. He expected to get away with it knowing that he had his cabinet and the caucus in his back pocket.

This sorry saga he will only end if President Zuma and his blind supporters in the ruling party dig deep into their pockets and recompense taxpayers for the millions extravagantly spent on the homestead.

COPE finds it hard to believe that President Zuma is saying to the court that he wants “finality in the matter of the Public Protector’s report”. His act of ridiculing opposition MPs in parliament should be played before the court to reveal his true inclination on the matter. He still wants to kicj the can down the road.

COPE is not impressed with the further twist that President Zuma is putting on the matter. He wants to draw this out further. It would have been more to the point if he voluntarily submitted an obligation to pay and to do so within 30 days.

Who wants another costly report on the pile of reports? Who wants to see Cedric Frolick presiding over another sham ad hoc meeting delivering a predetermined outcome exonerating the President of all liability?

The President, the minister of Police and the ANC caucus know very well that their lies and manipulation will be exposed in the Constitutional Court. The minister of police must hang his head in shame for doing everything in his power to cravenly please his boss and blowing millions on a senseless investigation. It is also a total shame that members of the ANC in Parliament defended their leader in the disgraceful manner they did.

COPE wants to know how the ruling party is going to repair the enormous damage it did to the standing of the Public Protector’s office.

Issued by Dennis Bloem, COPE spokesperson

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