Zuma must be a sport and pay back the money – Ben Turok

2014-10-09 09:23

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There is no doubt that President Jacob Zuma benefited from Nkandla so he should pay and finally put the controversy to rest, according to outspoken ANC stalwart Ben Turok.

“The man [Zuma] was there. He saw what was happening. It was his house. He benefited, even if he didn’t give instructions. I would say fair is fair. I would say, come on be a sport, pay something,” said Turok, who retired as an MP earlier this year.

“The fact that there has been no give at all has upset a lot of people,” he said during question time at an informal media briefing at his Cape Town office yesterday.

Turok said the country was faced with an economic crisis – stagnant growth in key industries and growth of just 1.4%. These matters required urgent attention, yet the Nkandla controversy was wearing the country down.

“There has been a lack of wisdom on the way the ANC has run Nkandla, which means it runs on and on until we are sick to death of the whole story,” said Turok, who remains an ANC member.

Asked why the ANC had not moved to get the president to contribute, he said: “The ANC lost some support in the elections. That has led to degree of defensiveness. It is good to be defensive, but you must be clever about it. On an issue like Nkandla, it has been a huge waste of energy, and a cost to the ANC and the government. I regret the whole thing.”

Turok said the fact that National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete was also ANC chairperson was a “complicating factor” in the political tensions currently taking place at Parliament.

It did not indicate “a kiss of death for Parliament”, but he described her appointment as an “unwise move”.

“I think the position she holds as chair of the ANC is rather heavy in terms of her dual responsibility. I would agree that is a problem.”

But Turok also questioned what he described as “stubborn oppositionism” by the Economic Freedom Fighters. “The question is – is it the intention to disrupt Parliament or to protest on a particular point – Nkandla.”

He said it appeared that the EFF did not plan to cooperate with Parliament as an institution.

Turok is chairperson of the Institute for African Alternatives and is engaged in initiatives to unlock economic potential.

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