Zuma had his day in court: now what?

By Mieke Vlok
10 February 2016

There are still plenty of misconceptions flying around about the Constitutional Court's "reserved judgment" on the Nkandla matter. This is what it actually means.

Almost two years after public protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma is liable to pay for upgrades to his Nkandla-homestead, the Constitutional Court is tasked with deciding whether Zuma ought to pay back the money, as numerous opposition parties and members of the public have demanded.

Who took Zuma to court?

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the organisation Corruption Watch brought an application to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. This is the highest court in South Africa and the application was heard yesterday.

What happened in court?

Zuma’s lawyers have admitted that he should have complied with the Public Protector’s findings, the Constitutional Court heard yesterday.

“We say we accept that the president is required to carry out remedial action. The Public Protector’s report has to be complied with,” Jeremy Gauntlett, one of Zuma’s legal representatives, told the court.

By doing this Zuma has effectively thrown all those who have supported him in his argument that he is not liable for repaying the money under the bus.

In particular, police minister Nathi Nhleko and parliamentary speaker Baleka Mbete were left with egg on their faces. Both Nhleko and Parliament found that Zuma was not liable to pay back any money.

Will Zuma pay back the money?

In a surprise announcement last week, the presidency announced that Zuma is willing to pay back a portion of the money spent on Nkandla. Many have deemed this to be an election tactic in the run-up to the Municipal elections taking place in March.

The court reserved judgment and we are yet to hear its findings on whether Zuma needs to pay back the money.

Professor Frans Viljoen from the University of Pretoria’s law school confirmed to YOU that a verdict will most likely only be delivered in a few weeks.

The question on many South Africans lips was, if Zuma loses this case, can a Motion for a Vote Of No Confidence then be pushed in Parliament?

"It can, but it is not required," De Vos explained on Twitter, citing section 89 of the constitution which says "Parliament 'may', not 'must' impeach," if the president violates the constitution or the law. Cawq4E2WcAAgZTU Social media reacts to Zuma’s day in court: Professor Pierre de Vos, a lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Cape Town, said the hearing was a revolutionary moment in South African constitutional law.

He also urged the public to wait for the court’s judgment before jumping to conclusions.
The parliamentary speaker, Baleka Mbete, also came under fire and Professor De Vos indicated that her case is not reconcilable with the Constitution.
The author and political commentator Eusebius McKaiser was unimpressed by Baleka Mbete’s advocate.
But he was impressed by Zuma’s representative, advocate Jeremy Gauntlett.
The Public Protector thanked South Africans for their continued support in taking Zuma to task on Nkandla.
And also said to City Press she was glad Zuma is conceding that he was wrong.
Political analyst Max du Preez confessed he had to divide his time between the cricket and the court.
But added that whoever had to defend Mbete would have a very tough job.
DA-leader Helen Zille said the court proceedings show that those who stand up for justice will ultimately be remembered as true heroes. She referenced former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, who was recently fired by Zuma, and minister of public works, Thulas Nxesi. Nxesi had also previously found that Zuma did not have to repay any of the money used to construct Nkandla.
She also called out The New Age for not reporting on the pivotal day in court. The newspaper is owned by the Gupta family, which has close ties to Zuma.

Additional Sources: Twitter, City Press, eNCA.

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