News24

DA: Presidency thinks it's above the law

2010-04-01 21:11

Cape Town - The presidency still seems to consider itself above the law, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma's legal fees had inexplicably increased from R5m to R9.6m, but the presidency did not seem to think this needed to be explained to anyone - not to Parliament's public accounts committee, Scopa, and certainly not the South African public - he said.

A week ago, when chief operations officer in the presidency Jessie Duarte, appeared before Scopa, she declared the amount spent on Zuma's legal fees was R5m.

"Either she was not aware that the amount was in fact R9.6m, which says a lot about her knowledge of what goes on in the presidency, or she deliberately decreased the amount by nearly 50%, which raises questions of corruption and gross misrepresentation.

"Either way, this is hugely problematic," Trollip said.

Missed deadline

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi had set a deadline of March 30 for the presidency to submit a detailed breakdown of all Zuma's legal bills, so as to understand where this sudden increase had come from.

The presidency had missed this deadline, and on Wednesday submitted incomplete information, in the form of a lump-sum, while Scopa had specifically asked for a detailed breakdown of every invoice relating to Zuma's legal bills.

"Once again, the presidency seems to regard itself as being above the law," Trollip said.

"This is a clear indication that the presidency had not complied with Scopa's request, yet Themba Godi is waiting on further communication from the presidency, before he determines whether or not they had fully complied, and had in fact been honest to his committee.

"How many more flimsy excuses is Scopa going to accept before taking action?

"There is clearly one set of rules for the politically connected elite, and another for the rest," Trollip said.