DA hitches a ride on EFF’s Nkandla challenges

2015-09-14 10:01

The Democratic Alliance has applied to piggyback on the Economic Freedom Fighters’ case before the Constitutional Court, which should settle – for once and for all – the question of whether the Public Protector’s finding are binding or not.

If the DA is granted access, legal challenges by the two major opposition parties are set to dovetail in the highest court of the land early next year.

The DA announced yesterday that it will file a founding affidavit today to apply for direct access to the Constitutional Court in the EFF’s case that seeks to force President Jacob Zuma to follow the Public Protector’s findings and pay back a portion of the R246 million spent on security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.

Pipping the DA to the post, the EFF was granted access a few weeks ago by the Constitutional Court and given a court date of February 9. The EFF argues that both Parliament and Zuma have failed in their constitutional duties by disregarding the Public Protector’s findings.

The green light from the Constitutional Court came as a surprise to the DA and some legal commentators, who suspected that the court would not grant access pending the outcome of other related cases in the lower courts.

One of them is now before the Supreme Court of Appeal, which will sit on Friday to hear arguments of whether or not the Public Protector’s findings can be disregarded in the case of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

He is fighting to keep his job after Cape High Court Judge Anton Schippers granted an order, sought by the DA, to suspend him and institute disciplinary proceedings in line with the findings of the Public Protector.

The DA has also filed papers in the Cape High Court on the Public Protector’s findings on the Nkandla matter.

But if the DA is now granted access to the Constitutional Court, then it could circumvent this protracted process.

“The [EFF] matter is similar, though not identical,” explained the DA’s James Selfe, adding that the DA could become a co-litigant in the case before the Constitutional Court.

“We will now see if the Constitutional Court will grant us the opportunity to make our points at the same time as the EFF case is argued.”

Like the EFF, the DA targets both Zuma and Parliament, claiming both acted unconstitutionally.

“The law has been developed in some degree in the Schippers judgment. We trust that the [appeal court] will further develop it, and that the Constitutional Court will rule definitely on the matter,” said Selfe.

When asked if the EFF was consulted beforehand, Selfe said the DA’s application was a matter for the court to determine.

Asked the same question yesterday, the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “The EFF leads, everyone follows”. He declined further comment.

The Nkandla controversy has raged for 18 months since Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her Secure in Comfort report on spending at Zuma’s homestead.

She recommended that Zuma “unduly benefitted” and should pay back a “reasonable percentage of the cost” as determined by the treasury.

Read more on:    da  |  eff  |  nkandla

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