AFT slams the ANC and the national executive

By Drum Digital
14 April 2016

Advocates for Transformation (AFT) , a national association for advocates in South Africa, say they would like to set the record straight about the Constitutional Court judgment on President Zuma’s reluctance to act on the Public Protectors findings that he should pay back some of the money from the non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

By Ayanda Sitole

Advocates for Transformation (AFT) , a national association for advocates in South Africa,  say they would like to set the record straight about the Constitutional Court judgment on President Zuma’s reluctance to act on the Public Protectors findings that he should pay back some of the money from the non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

The AFT Chairperson Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza says the ANC and the national executive have claimed the Constitutional Court made no findings that President Zuma violated the Constitution and his oath of office or that the national assembly violated the Constitution by failing its constitutional duty to hold the executive accountable.

“These findings by the Constitutional Court are serious and strike at the heart of our constitutional democracy. They talk to its core values, namely accountability, the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution,”  Dumisa says.

“Given the findings that the President failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and in view of the fact that in May 2014, the President took an oath to obey, uphold protect and maintain the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, there can be no doubt that he has failed to implement and observe his oath of office.  Any view to the contrary is a deliberate attempt to twist the clear words used in both the judgment and the oath,” he adds.

Dumisa says the argument that the President may not have acted intentionally in violation the Constitution diminishes the seriousness and impact of the violations.

“This is a view which flies directly against the clear wording used in the judgment to the effect that his “innocent” state of mind would not “detract from the illegality of his conduct,” he says.

ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said she couldn’t comment as  she did not know have the details of the AFT statement.

The breakdown of the findings of the Constitutional Court are as follows:

  • That the President of the Republic of South Africa “failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land”.

  • That the President failed in two material respects: (1) he showed “substantial disregard for the remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector in terms of her constitutional powers”; and (2) he failed, as he was duty-bound to do, to “assist and protect the Public Protector so as to ensure her independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness by complying with her remedial action”.

  • That the President “might have been following wrong legal advice and therefore acting in good faith. But that does not detract from the illegality of his conduct regard being had to its inconsistency with his constitutional obligations”.

  • That “there was everything wrong with the National Assembly stepping into the shoes of the Public Protector, by passing a resolution that purported effectively to nullify the findings made and remedial action taken by the Public Protector and replacing them with its own findings and “remedial action”.  This, the rule of law is dead against.”

  • That it is an unavoidable conclusion that “the National Assembly’s resolution based on the Minister’s findings exonerating the President from liability is inconsistent with the Constitution and unlawful”.

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