President Jacob Zuma has tabled in Parliament the letters of reprimand that he sent to the Ministers involved in the Nkandla scandal, and they have been published this morning. The letters (available here) are a joke, and do not constitute a reprimand by any normal understanding of the word.
The letters reinforce President Zuma’s arrogant refusal to accept that he did anything wrong. The letters do not specifically reprimand the Ministers for their involvement in this unacceptable abuse of public funds, and for their role over the course of several years in trying to hide facts and shield the President from accountability. The reprimand should have been specific in nature – specifying what each Minister did wrong: allowing the abuse of public funds in their Departments, not exercising sufficient control and oversight over the project, allowing for the outrageous cost overruns, publicly trying to cover up facts and avoid accountability, making statements that were later proved to be totally untrue, and more.
The Democratic Alliance has forwarded these letters to our legal team, and have asked them to advise us on whether they constitute an adequate reprimand as envisioned by the Public Protector. If not, we will not hesitate to seek to compel the President to reprimand these Ministers fully and thoroughly.
A reprimand should be a severe rebuke, and should be specific in nature. No South African will consider these letters as anything close to the reprimand that the Public Protector and the Constitutional Court had in mind. This is another insult to the public, and President Zuma is once again mistaken if he thinks this will draw a line under the matter.