The following speech was delivered, in the National Assembly, by the DA Leader during Budget Vote 1: The Presidency.
We stand here today to debate the budget for the Presidency.
This is an important debate because it will tell the people of South Africa how their money is abused to keep an accused criminal in his job.
And when we vote on the budget, the people of this country will see, once again, that Mr Zuma and today’s ANC are one and the same.
They will see, once again, how far this once mighty liberation movement has fallen.
They will see how the ANC protects its looter-in-chief. And make no mistake, Madam Speaker, this man stole from all of us.
Those aren’t just my words. The Constitutional Court judgment handed down in January last year, called it “fair comment” to say Jacob Zuma stole your money.
53 years ago, one of the ANC’s greatest leaders was known as ‘Accused number 1’.
Nelson Mandela was ‘Accused number 1’ because his name was first on the charge sheet at the Rivonia trial.
In the context of the struggle against apartheid, this was a badge of honour.
Today, the ANC is again led by ‘Accused number 1’. But this time, it has nothing to do with a noble and selfless struggle.
It is because Jacob Zuma is the biggest beneficiary of the R70 billion arms deal, and stands accused on 783 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
In the context of the struggle to liberate our people from poverty, corruption is unforgivable. Because corruption makes poor people poorer.
You know, we have heard a lot recently about the influence of the Guptas on the Presidency.
And we’ve forgotten about a man by the name of Schabir Shaik – the original Gupta.
We’ve forgotten how Shaik solicited bribes for Jacob Zuma, how he wrote off debt for Jacob Zuma.
We’ve forgotten how Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption and three years for fraud for what the Judge Hilary Squires called a “mutually beneficial symbiosis” with Jacob Zuma.
The Appeals Court judge was less diplomatic when he called this symbiosis what it really was: “A sustained corrupt relationship”.
The only reason Mr Zuma is not yet in jail is because he has captured every state institution that has the power to put him there.
Even the medical parole system has been defrauded to hand Schabir Shaik his own ‘get out of jail free’ card.
For someone who was released from jail more than seven years ago to die a dignified death, he’s doing remarkably well.
In fact, his prognosis is so good, he has now applied for a presidential pardon from his old friend.
That is why, these days, Mr Shaik is doing more time at the Durban Country Club than at Durban’s Westville Prison.
Madam Speaker, on Friday, at the North Gauteng High Court, Mr Zuma lost the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
I do not say this lightly. But any man who abuses his power to manipulate the justice system to stay out of jail is not an innocent man.
If Mr Zuma is innocent, why has he spent the last eight years, four months and six days desperately fighting to avoid his day in court?
A man with nothing to hide would welcome his day in court. But Mr Zuma has plenty to hide, and will most likely appeal Friday’s High Court ruling, wasting even more taxpayers’ money.
In his judgment on Friday, Judge Ledwaba said that there was nothing on the Spy Tapes recordings that justified the dropping of the charges in 2009.
He said that the NPA Head at the time, Mokotedi Mpshe, had “ignored the importance of his oath of office” in withdrawing the charges, and that his decision was irrational.
He also said that Mpshe found himself “under pressure” to discontinue the prosecution against Mr Zuma.
Under pressure from whom exactly? I think we all know the answer.
It’s the same pressure that shut down the Scorpions, the best corruption busting unit this country has ever seen.
It’s the same pressure that saw the Scorpions replaced by the tame Hawks, headed up by a loyal cadre deployed to do the Mr Zuma’s dirty bidding.
It’s the same pressure that saw the compromised Nomgcobo Jiba parachuted in to the top of the NPA to pursue all the Mr Zuma’s enemies.
It’s the same pressure that produced the Seriti Commission whitewash report, exonerating Mr Zuma and his cronies from any wrongdoing in the Arms Deal scandal.
It’s the same pressure that gave us Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s discredited Nkandla report, along with his embarrassing Fire Pool demonstration video.
All of it is pressure from Number One. Or should I say ‘Accused number 1’.
Honourable members, we are here today to vote on the President’s budget.
But how can we separate this budget allocation from the actions of ‘Accused number 1’?
No man with such a tainted record can possibly represent the office of the President of South Africa.
Because, above all, this position demands honesty and integrity. And after seven years in office, all we have seen from him are lies and deceit.
We cannot contemplate the allocation of public money to the Presidency until the Presidency is headed up by an honourable man.
Every cent of public money spent on his household, his spousal unit, his security, his travel, his home improvements and his legal defence is for this man’s enrichment.
We will not be complicit in this.
We cannot support a Presidency budget that saw R110 million wasted on an Arms Deal whitewash.
We cannot support a Presidency budget that has spent R45 million of public money – the equivalent of 375 RDP houses – on legal fees since 2009 to fight Mr Zuma’s battles in court.
We cannot support a Presidency budget when that president refuses to take responsibility for his actions.
Because this is a man whose answer to every single allegation is: “It wasn’t me.”
The Gupta landing at Waterkloof? It wasn’t me.
Al-Bashir’s escape? It wasn’t me.
The millions spent on Nkandla? It wasn’t me.
Failure to comply with the Public Protector’s report? It wasn’t me
A R4 billion luxury presidential jet? It wasn’t me
The push to sign off on a trillion Rand nuclear deal? It wasn’t me.
The Gupta brothers offering cabinet posts? It wasn’t me.
The crash of the Rand following Nenegate? It wasn’t me.
Nothing is ever Jacob Zuma. But he doesn’t fool anyone. Everybody knows: It was him.
And everybody knows that our country is going backwards under Zuma’s ANC.
Everybody knows that one in three South Africans can’t find work, and that our economy is expected to grow at just 0.6% this year.
Everybody knows that the education of poor, mainly black, children is getting worse.
Everybody knows that cities and towns governed by the ANC are in decline.
And everybody knows that the ANC will protect Jacob Zuma at all costs.
The ANC of Nelson Mandela is no more.
The leadership of this ANC has betrayed every member, every supporter and every citizen of this country.
No wonder the ANC cannot fill stadiums anymore.
The fact is, Madam Speaker, the ANC cannot be saved from itself. And the ANC cannot save South Africa.
That is why, in the coming years, we will sweep what President Mbeki called an “ignoble and corrupt parasite” from office.
We will put power back in the hands of the people of the country.
But, in the meantime, we have some unfinished business with ‘Accused number 1.
Mr Zuma, you say you want your day in court. Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.
The good news is that your day in court is fast approaching.
The bad news is that, when that day arrives, you are going to lose.
Just look at your track record in court up until now.
In this House, you have the ANC caucus to protect you. But out there, when you are up against an independent judiciary, the odds are stacked against you.
Out there, the Constitutional Court – the highest court in the land – wasn’t afraid to say that you had violated the Constitution and broken your oath of office.
Because out there in court, only one thing matters. And that is the truth.
And the truth is, Madam Speaker, this man is a thief.
I thank you.
By Mmusi Maimane