All South Africans, including Zuma, are equal before law – De Vos

2016-03-31 19:49
(Mpho Raborife, News24)

(Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Cape Town – The Constitution ensures that all South Africans are treated equally before the law and this included President Jacob Zuma, constitutional law expert Professor Pierre De Vos said on Thursday.

"Given our history, a history where some people were treated as if they were special, as if they had special rights and other people were treated as if they were not equal, the very important principle in our Constitution is that everyone is equal before the law and you are not entitled to certain benefits just because you happen to be the president of the country," he told News24.

"Just like an ordinary person in a rural village in Lusikisiki is not entitled to get the state to come and build them a house with a swimming pool, in the same way the president is not entitled to that."

De Vos said this was an important principle established by the Constitution.

The president was entitled to certain things such as security measures. "But over and above that, you cannot now benefit from state funds in a way which ultimately is corrupt, because the Constitution prevents that from happening," De Vos said.

He said if the Constitution did not do that, the country would have gone back to before 1994 where some people counted and others did not.

'Unconscionable way of organising a country'

"That is clearly an unconscionable way of organising a country," he said.

The Constitutional Court earlier on Thursday ruled that Zuma's failure to comply with the Public Protector's remedial action against him in her Nkandla report was inconsistent with the Constitution and was invalid.

The court also ordered that the resolution passed by the National Assembly that absolved Zuma from compliance was invalid and should be set aside.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said only a court of law could set aside the Public Protector's findings.

Madonsela found in her report, Secure in Comfort, released in March 2014, that Zuma had unduly benefited from some of the upgrades. She recommended that he repay a reasonable portion of the R246m spent on the upgrades, and that the ministers involved in the project be reprimanded.

On the National Assembly, De Vos said by setting aside Madonsela's recommendations and absolving Zuma it was the same as overturning the Electoral Commission of SA's election results if it did not like the outcome.

"It's preposterous," he said. "The court reiterated that is impossible and you can't do it."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  nkandla upgrade

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