Nkandla showdown starts in Constitutional Court

2016-02-09 10:39

Johannesburg - The showdown over the money spent on upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla started in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng opened proceedings with a request that the lawyers keep their submissions short, and gave the floor to Wim Trengove, SC, representing the Economic Freedom Fighters.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu and former prosecutor and now DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach were among the first to arrive to take their seats in the court. They both made their separate applications along similar lines to get Zuma to comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report Secure in Comfort.

Madonsela recommended that Zuma pay back some of the money, but Police Minister Nathi Nhleko concluded that he owed nothing, to the outrage of opposition parties.

Shivambu, in a red beret and T-shirt, and Economic Freedom Fighters chairperson Dali Mpofu, who has presented argument in the court before on behalf of a disgruntled ANC faction, made their way to their seats in the public gallery.

Mounds of paperwork filled the tables in front of them reserved for the lawyers who include: Trengrove for the EFF, Lindi Nkosi-Thomas for Speaker Baleka Mbete, Jeremy Gauntlett for Zuma, Gilbert Marcus for Madonsela, Anton Katz for the DA, Carol Steinberg for Corruption Watch and William Mokhari for the SA Police Service.

Zuma's legal adviser Michael Hulley, who is no stranger to the court either, was also present. Hulley had helped defend Zuma in the court over the validity of a search warrant when he was still facing corruption charges.

The EFF is expected to argue that Zuma failed to comply with the remedial action set out by the public protector and wants the court to make an order compelling him to do so.

If he did not, he would infringe a series of obligations expected of him as president.

Trengove said in his opening statement that the National Assembly, led by Speaker Baleka Mbete, had also protected Zuma over the issue.

Mbete, Zuma and Madonsela are respondents and Corruption Watch has joined as a friend of the court.

The DA, in a separate review application, would argue that Zuma's failure to engage rationally with the public protector's findings and remedial action pertaining to him was irrational, illegal, and unconstitutional.

Neither EFF leader Julius Malema, nor Zuma were at the Constitutional Court. 

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