The Constitutional Court has given President Jacob Zuma just over three months to pay back the money for some of the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
“The National Treasury must determine the reasonable costs of those measures implemented by the department of public works at the president’s Nkandla homestead that do not relate to security…,” Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ruled on Thursday, in a unanimous Constitutional Court judgment.
He said the National Treasury should to determine a “reasonable percentage”, which ought to be paid back personally by Zuma.
The Treasury had to report back within 60 days of the Constitutional Court’s order.
“The president must personally pay the amount determined by the National Treasury… within 45 days of this court’s signification of its approval of the report… by the National Treasury.”
Mogoeng said Zuma and the National Assembly had acted incorrectly when they decided to set aside Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report which recommended that Zuma pay back the funds.
“The failure by the president to comply with remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector… is inconsistent with the Constitution… and is invalid,” Mogoeng said.
Madonsela had found that, while the upgrades which were done at Zuma’s home were meant to exclusively be security upgrades, millions more were spent on features such as an ampitheatre, a visitor’s centre, a cattle kraal, chicken kraal and swimming pool.
Zuma had made submissions to the National Assembly, stating that he had not asked for the upgrades.
An ad hoc committe, led by Police Minister Nhlanhla Nhleko was established to investigate whether Zuma had unduly benefited and was required to pay back any of the money.
The ad hoc committee came back with a report saying that Zuma was not liable to pay back any of the funds.
Opposition parties, however, took the matter to court, seeking clarity on whether recommendations made by the Public Protector could be ignored.
Mogoeng on Thursday ruled in favour of the opposition parties, and added that the National Assembly had acted incorrectly and should have instead challenged Madonsela’s report before a court of law, instead of dismissing it.
Mogoeng also ordered the president to reprimand the ministers who were involved in the incident.
“The president, minister of police and National Assembly must pay the costs of the application and the cost of two counsel,” he said.
- Article by Naledi Shange and Genevieve Quintal, News24