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Zuma has given us 'middle finger' – Madonsela

Publish date: 13 November 2017
Issue Number: 751
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa

President Jacob Zuma appears to be making a mockery of the Constitution and has ‘given the country the middle finger’. That’s the view of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who said in the So Many Questions feature in the Sunday Times that 'the rule of law is not about using the letter of the law to avoid accountability. It is about obeying the spirit of the law’. She added: ‘ He has done everything in his power to be unanswerable or delay accountability.’ This, she said, suggests he doesn’t want to be answerable – ‘and the question is why’. Madonsela, who, in her final act as Public Protector, recommended Zuma immediately set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate state capture under a judge appointed by the Chief Justice, also implied Parliament had failed the people by not holding the President accountable to set up such a commission quickly ... ‘not one year down the line after the evidence and money is gone'.

So Many Questions in the Sunday Times

The pressure on Zuma, though, is being kept up. DA leader Mmusi Maimane plans to go through Zuma's declaration of interests documents to determine whether he had revealed the R1m annual salary he is alleged to have received from businessman Roy Moodley's company, reports BusinessLIVE. Maimane had requested, and was granted, permission to view the documents after journalist Jacques Pauw, in his book The President's Keepers, alleged that Zuma was paid a salary by Moodley's company, Royal Security, which, Legalbrief notes, has received government tenders. Although Zuma in Parliament last week denied receiving payments from private individuals or companies during his tenure as President 'other than those which have been disclosed or reported to the necessary authorities', Maimane said it was vital to confirm this. BusinessLIVE notes he will also check if Zuma has paid the appropriate tax in terms of the Income Tax Act for the alleged salary. If it was found that Zuma had not declared the salary nor paid the appropriate taxes, the DA would consider further action, said Maimane. He said the President was subject to the law like any other citizen.

Full BusinessLIVE report

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lechesa Tsenoli, has been dragged into Zuma's legal spending dispute. However, he has vowed to oppose the DA’s Western Cape High Court bid to force Zuma to reveal how much taxpayers’ money he has used to oppose the reinstatement of corruption charges against him. The party filed papers after Zuma’s refusal to answer the party’s parliamentary question on his legal bill last week, notes a report in The Mercury. In the papers, DA federal executive chair James Selfe accused Tsenoli of assisting Zuma’s refusal to answer the question on his legal bills. ‘Instead of directing the President to answer the question and disclose how much money had been spent, the Deputy Speaker regarded the matter as having been dealt with and directed that the proceedings continue,’ the papers read. Selfe said Tsenoli’s conduct also bordered on violating the law and the Constitution. He said the party wanted the court to declare both Zuma and Tsenoli’s conduct unlawful and direct Zuma to answer the question in writing within five days. Tsenoli described the DA action as ‘crazy’, saying he’d done nothing wrong. ‘As a presiding officer, it is not for me to extract the answer out of the President on their behalf as the opposition. I even allowed Maimane to ask a supplementary question, but I can’t be involved in a political exchange between parties. ‘It’s a crazy idea for them to go to court and we will definitely oppose it,’ Tsenoli said.

Full report in The Mercury (subscription needed)