News24

Zuma 'flouting Constitution'

2010-03-09 14:19

Cape Town - The Congress of the People on Tuesday accused President Jacob Zuma of flouting the Constitution by not declaring his assets.

"In 2005, [former president] Thabo Mbeki fired Jacob Zuma as deputy president of the Republic following the conviction of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik for [an] inappropriate financial relationship with Zuma," Cope deputy leader Mbhazima Shilowa said following the revelation that Zuma had missed the 60-day deadline to declare his personal interests.

"This inappropriate relationship was discovered once Zuma failed to declare his financial interests in Parliament," he said.

Since then, Zuma had continued to receive financial assistance from business people, "ostensibly in return for favours ranging from construction of his Nkandla home to assistance for his third wife with regards to accommodation".

No surprise

"It therefore comes as no surprise that he has failed to declare his financial interests.

"He knows very well that as a member of the Cabinet he is obliged to declare his interests just as previous heads of state have done.

"The only reason why he is not willing to declare his interest can only be that he has received a lot of resources from friends and associates in return for favours while in government, and/or that he lives beyond his means.

"This once more validates the motion of no confidence in President Zuma by Congress of the People.

"He is not only an embarrassment to the country, but flouts the Constitution with impunity," Shilowa said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ANC said it regretted that Zuma missed the deadline to declare his assets to Parliament, but said the circumstances needed to be understood.

Special case

"We have a special case, in that we are dealing with a president who has a large family and therefore it is not easy," spokesperson Brian Sokutu said.

"We regret the fact that the deadline wasn't met, but as I said before it has to be understood," Sokutu said.

"What you have to understand is the fact that the president has more than one wife and therefore it is a different set of circumstances and we are asking people to really respect that. He hasn't said that he is not going to comply."

Zuma, who has three wives and reportedly 20 children, is being guided by lawyers on the matter, after it was initially reported that his office felt there was ambiguity in the law on the declaration of his assets.

Political analysts have insisted that the law - the Executive Members' Ethics Act and the Executive Ethics Code - is clear on the matter, and that he does have to declare. The Democratic Alliance has asked the Public Protector to investigate the matter.

The fact that Zuma put together a legal team on the matter proved that he did not consider himself above the law, Sokutu said.

"We are as the ANC satisfied and confident that this process will be put in place and sorted out. A team was announced by the presidential spokesperson. Therefore as the ANC we think that he has shown no disregard for the law."

The team includes attorney Michael Hulley who managed Zuma's rape and corruption defence.

An announcement on whether he will declare his assets is expected on Wednesday. The presidency referred queries on the matter to Hulley, who would not say more.