How much does President Zuma owe South Africa?

2016-05-08 19:18

The Official Opposition's claim

After President Zuma told Parliament that "recommendations are recommendations. Subject to be taken or not taken" on his refusal to honour the report by the Public Protector which required him to pay a portion of the non-security related features on his Nkandla residence. The Economic Freedom Fighters, and the DA dragged him to court. President Zuma lost in court because you just cannot justify abuse of public funds when you are the custodian of the public purse. Our supreme law is very clear on how public money is to be managed and Lady Madonsela, whose life is reportedly under threat, found that all our supply chain management laws including the constitution were violated on the Nkandla project.

Then the court humiliated President Zuma by ordering that he pay back some of the money he and his comrades had spent much of 2014 and 2015 fighting to prevent him from paying even if it meant undermining constitutional bodies such as Parliament and the Public Protector. The president lies later and says he has always been willing to pay when he once told Parliament that "there is no money that I'm going to be paying back." The question then becomes how much should he pay? He won't pay the entire amount of the non-security features but a portion. And this is the fundamental problem because some of the money used on the Nkandla project had to be taken from the Inner City Regeneration programme which was meant to support government departments in delivering services to the public. If the money is lost to Nkandla, what becomes of improving service delivery in the City where the money was supposed to go?

Besides that, the separate unlawful investigations initiated by the executive to investigate improper conduct by the executive resulted in a waste of money too. Do you remember the visits to Nkandla? The demonstration  of how the firepool works? The parliamentary committee travel costs to Nkandla had to be paid for by the tax payer. That includes the legal fees.

Beyond that, the culture of the President wanting accountability on his terms has added an estimated R100 million spent on the Arms Procurement Commission (arms deal). And of course the commission found no evidence of corruption. Interesting when the courts found that Schabir Shaik had a generally corrupt relationship with President Zuma and said there was overwhelming evidence to support this finding. So if the court convicted Shaik for corrupt relationship with President Zuma, why would a court not conclude that Zuma had a corrupt relationship with Shaik? I am no legal scholar but my understanding is that such a judgment implicates President Zuma even though he was not the one on trial.

Perhaps it is President Zuma's reason for fighting so hard not to stand trial. Because the courts may reach a different conclusion hence the need for accountability on his terms. This fight is set to continue with the recent court ruling that set aside the decision to drop the president's corruption charges. More court cases mean the R45 million already spent by the Presidency on legal costs fighting and losing  court battles will rise.

The President has also cost the taxpayer a lot of money with his many wives. With ever rising presidential spousal support costing R88 million since Jacob Zuma was elected President. Add the few bills mentioned here then you see how costly the Zuma presidency has been. He would probably argue that he is legally entitled to spend and waste so much money in a country where you have people looking for their next meal at nearest dump site. As if that was not enough, reports are that he may only pay R1 million of the R246 million of public money spent at his private residence. Do more digging and you may find other ways the Zuma administration has wasted public money. In fact, wasteful expenditure increased dramatically when he became president. How can the ANC look at these figures and try to justify them? Champion of the poor?  I don't think so.

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