Perhaps Jacob Zuma has decided to get his ducks in a row as he realises his time as president will soon be done. His first attempt is to settle the matter of Nkandla.
Regarding the drawn-out legal battle that followed the public protector’s March 2014 report on the estate, the Presidency has issued a statement on the matter and how he proposes it should go forward:
While President Zuma remains critical of a number of factual aspects and legal conclusions in the report, he proposes a simple course to implement what the public protector recommended as remedial action contained in the report.
To achieve an end to the drawn-out dispute in a manner that meets the public protector’s recommendations and is beyond political reproach, the president proposes that the determination of the amount he is to pay should be independently and impartially determined.
Given the objection by one of the parties to the involvement of SAPS, as the public protector herself had required, the auditor general and minister of finance be requested by the court, through appropriate designees, to conduct the exercise directed by the public protector.
The court is due to hear the matter on February 9 2016.
With regards to the upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla home and how those irregularities happened continue to be investigated in separate inquiries relating to officials and professional consultants on the project.
The report specifically found no wrongdoing of any kind by the president. It also found no benefit for which the president could to any degree be required to compensate the state in relation to nearly all aspects of the project.
But in relation to five features of the private homestead the report directed a further process to be carried out by National Treasury in conjunction with SAPS. This is to determine firstly a reasonable proportion of the item in question for which the President should recompense the State, and secondly the reasonable cost in that regard.
The actual amount that the President is required to pay was not determined by the Public Protector who limited herself to setting out this process for the amount to be determined.
Zuma also supports the need for finality in the matter of the Public Protector’s report.
However, he believes and contends in his affidavits filed in court that the DA and the EFF have misinterpreted and/or are manipulating the Public Protector’s report for the purposes of political expediency.
It will now be for the court to decide if the offer is an appropriate basis for an order when the applications are argued on February 9 2016.
So, in short, a whole lot of words and something about paying it back – but not all of it, only the amount that the president thinks is fair. However, he will leave it to the court. Should we be sceptical of his confidence in the matter?
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