Nkandla: a moral quandary?

2014-03-30 14:00

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While the debate rages about the legal implications of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on spending at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home, some are considering the report’s moral implications. City Press spoke to religious leaders across the spectrum to get their views.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Catholic Archbishop of Durban

If a scandal on a par with Nkandla happened in another democracy, says Napier, the leader in question would step down.

“Normally, they would be guided by their conscience or by personal and family honour, or just normal human decency.

“I think in this case, there is a serious and additional reason for such an action?–?that is, that the report plays down what needs to be done to restore what was unjustly or ­unlawfully taken from public funds.

“The first question that needs to be asked is: Why was the Nkandla upgrade undertaken? Was it necessary?

“I’m not sure I have the answers. We were told it was for security, but the Public Protector’s report said it had nothing to do with security. To justify such a huge ­expense, you clearly need to know the exact reasons.

“If something is not necessary and so much more can be done with the funds that were used for Nkandla?–?for the poor, for the children, for the ­unemployed?–?we would love to see those given priority.”

The Anglican Church of SA

On Thursday, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu led a prayer service for Zuma, the Cabinet and Parliament to make the “right” decisions on the Nkandla report and to “lead the nation to the truth”.

Archbishop Makgoba said the ­decision to upgrade Nkandla had not been taken with any consideration for national values.

“So, dear friends, we have seen the swimming pool, the amphitheatre, chicken runs and a cattle culvert?–?and those that surround the president, as a collective, must take responsibility and tell us they will lead the nation to the truth,” he said.

Reverend George Lebusa of the ­African Independent Churches

Lebusa’s group decried “demons” in Thuli Madonsela’s office in support of the SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng?–?and “vehemently” supports Zuma.

Lebusa said Zuma was morally above board and it was the government ministers who were responsible for Nkandla.

“[As South Africans], we must look within ourselves and find out where our hatred for Jacob Zuma comes from,” he urged.

“The president’s home needs big windows. It can’t look like a prison.”

Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary­ general of the Council of Muslim ­Theologians in SA

Bham said the extent of spending on Nkandla “finds little justification by any standard, as it far outweighs the need that the project actually ­necessitated”.

Bham said his organisation hoped that Zuma and the government would respond with South Africa’s best interests at heart, and with integrity and morality.

.?Attempts to get comments from Hindu and Jewish religious leaders proved futile

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