ANC, Zuma present a united front

2016-04-01 22:55

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Johannesburg – The ruling party stood unshakably behind President Jacob Zuma on Friday, despite a damning Constitutional Court ruling on Thursday which stated that Zuma had failed to "uphold, defend and respect the Constitution" when he did not adhere to the remedial actions called for by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Two years ago, Madonsela issued a report in which she stated that the millions that went into upgrading Zuma's Nkandla homestead had not all been rightfully used.

She found that some of the funds had gone into building a visitor's centre, an amphitheatre, cattle kraal, chicken run and swimming pool instead of for solely security upgrades.

Madonsela said Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the some of the upgrades and ordered that he pay back a portion of the funds. He repeatedly refused. 

On Friday, secretary-general of the ANC Gwede Mantashe stood before a room full of journalists at the party's headquarters in Johannesburg and defended Zuma, saying he was only human and was bound to make mistakes.

"We are not a party of saints, we are a party of human beings. From time to time [we] will commit mistakes," Mantashe said. 

Before this Zuma had gone on live television to announce that he had accepted the court's ruling and was sorry it took so long for the Nkandla matter to reach its end.

"With hindsight, there are many matters that could have been handled differently and which should never have been allowed to drag on this long, which we deeply regret.

"The matter has caused a lot of frustration and confusion for which I apologise on my behalf and on behalf of government," Zuma said. 

He said he had meant no disrespect to Madonsela and her office. 

"I wish to emphasise that I never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the Constitution which is the supreme law of the Republic," he said, adding that he would abide by the court's decision and would pay back the funds. 

After Zuma's apology Mantasha fended off questions from reporters, who questioned  whether the party still had full confidence in Zuma's ability to understand the Constitution and how the ANC felt about opposition parties' calls for Zuma's impeachment. 

Mantashe's responses suggested that the party would continue backing Zuma and his removal was not on the cards. 

"My own view is [that] opposition parties are making the call knowingly; that it is a call for the ANC to tear itself apart. When I say that, I would imagine you would have seen our previous experience.”

He was referring to the aftermath of the ousting of former president Thabo Mbeki in 2008. Mantashe said the party would not do that. He said that was an antithesis to the foundation of unity that the ANC and the country were built on.

“Opposition parties are making that call knowing that it’s a call for the ANC to tear itself apart. It would be a sick organisation that [would] take action because the main opposition party or the EFF is calling for it,” he said.

Opposition parties reacted to Zuma's apology speech with disappointment, stating that he should have done the honourable thing and stepped down. 

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  gwede mantashe  |  nkandla upgrade

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