Nkandla: the good news

2014-03-30 14:00

Yes, you read the headline correctly. There is good news.

Church leaders have elevated Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the renovation of the president’s estate at Nkandla from legal to moral, thereby eroding the governing party’s efforts to cast aside the report or to delay accountability through lengthy legal procedures.

Government’s response to the report into the Nkandla splurge has been to cast aspersions on it.

By comparison, note the softer outcome of a probe by an interministerial task team. Only one can be right, according to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, hinting at a legal review of the Protector’s report.

This is, of course, what happened to previous corruption allegations against President Jacob Zuma – as they became ensnared in allegations against the institutions that investigated them.

The release of the recordings of intelligence agencies – known as the “spy tapes” – that saw the president dodge those charges are now similarly strangled in labyrinthine court proceedings.

But this week, a group led by Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, the secretary-general of the SA Council of Churches Reverend Mautji Pataki and other church leaders have set a moral standard by which to judge the Nkandla spending and the report into it.

Makgoba prayed for the president, Cabinet and Parliament to “lead the nation to the truth” by respecting the report and implementing its recommendations.

Writing in Business Day on Thursday, ANC veteran Pallo Jordan said the president could not escape moral culpability for the Nkandla spending debacle. He also pressed the ANC to take collective responsibility for the scandal.

His public criticism follows that of several veterans, including Cabinet Minister Trevor Manuel, retiring veteran ANC MP Ben Turok, former Cabinet minister and Umkhonto weSizwe commander Ronnie Kasrils, along with its veterans’ leader, Sandy Sejake – all of whom have argued along moral lines and counselled against rubbishing the institution of the Public Protector.

All of this is very good news amid the shattered hopes and dreams Nkandla symbolises.

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