SACP disagrees with DA Nkandla SMS ruling

By Drum Digital
20 January 2015

The SACP says it disagreed with a majority ruling of the Constitutional Court on a DA SMS stating President Jacob Zuma "stole" taxpayers' money.

The SACP on Tuesday said it disagreed with a majority ruling of the Constitutional Court on a DA SMS stating President Jacob Zuma "stole" taxpayers' money.

"The SA Communist Party registers in the strongest possible terms its disagreement with the majority decision of the Constitutional Court, over the offensive and untrue SMS sent by the racist DA to its supporters," it said in a statement.

The Constitutional Court on Monday overturned an Electoral Court ruling that the Democratic Alliance could not publish the text message.

The DA's SMS, sent to around 1.5 million voters in Gauteng on March 20, read: "The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change".

The Constitutional Court judges wrote three different judgments, with seven judges agreeing that the Electoral Court order be set aside -- but their reasons for the ruling differed.

Another three judges -- Raymond Zondo, Chris Jafta and Monica Leeuw --said they would have upheld the Electoral Court's ruling.

According to the judgment the SMS constituted opinion or comment, rather than a statement of fact, and as such was not prohibited under the Electoral Act and Electoral Code.

The SACP believed the court "lost an opportunity to educate" South Africans on the fact that no right was absolute.

"Freedom of expression is a human right too, which equally must be subjected to a limitation. Therefore, freedom of expression must be tempered with the concept of human dignity... all the time."

The SACP feared the ruling could lay the way for "a culture of insults to be the norm in our body politic".

The DA and African National Congress both hailed the Constitutional Court judgment as a victory on Monday.

The DA's parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said: "This is a major victory for freedom of speech, proving again that South Africans have the right to form robust opinions about the issues affecting our nation".

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the judgment in fact vindicated the ruling party in its view that the DA had falsely presented its opinion on the Public Protector's Nkandla report as fact.

"It is regrettable that in spite of the ruling, which supports our view, the DA continues to play politics, hailing this as a victory when the Constitutional Court has been clear that the DA presented their opinions as fact on such an important matter," he said.

"It is not true that President Zuma stole taxpayers' money to build his homestead in Nkandla -- a point made by the successive reports of competent authorities, including the Public Protector."

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