Nkandla ruling puts Pravin Gordhan in powerful position – analyst

President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in Parliament. Picture: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in Parliament. Picture: GCIS

The “damning” Constitutional Court ruling had strengthened the hand of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, political analyst Judith February said today. 

In terms of the ruling, the newly reappointed finance minister – through the treasury – has been tasked with determining the percentage of costs that President Jacob Zuma should pay back for nonsecurity features at Nkandla. This is in line with the finding two years ago of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her report on Nkandla – Secure in Comfort. 

Confirming that the Public Protector’s findings were binding, the Constitutional Court has now given the treasury 60 days to report back on their determination. 

“The irony is that once again Pravin Gordhan is in a powerful position,” said February. 

“Very clear timelines have been given. The president has no choice but to adhere to them. If he doesn’t he will be found to have violated the Constitution again,” she said. 

Gordhan was appointed finance minister in December, replacing David van Rooyen who served in the Cabinet post for just a few days, prompting intense controversy and financial upheaval. 

February also said that it was significant that the Nkandla ruling was unanimous by all 11 judges, and it reaffirmed the rule of law and the role of Parliament and the Public Protector’s office in giving a voice to the voiceless. 

February said the ruling was black and white. “There was no mincing of words here. It was clear, damning, with no grey areas regarding the conduct of Zuma and Parliament and the supremacy of the law and Constitution.” 

She said that Zuma was even weaker than he was last week, a continuation of the unravelling of the Zuma era. However, she said it was unlikely that a change in leadership would be immediate. 

“I can’t see it happen immediately,” she said. 

She said it was “scandalous” that a head of state had been so determined to buck the system to the extent the matter had to go to the Constitutional Court. 

If the ANC was a perfectly functional party, it would not have come to this point. 

“It speaks volumes for the presidency, and the ANC, which has to find it within themselves the will to deal with it.”

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