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DA, EFF to meet with legal teams over Zuma’s Nkandla proposal
Zuma is offering to pay back an amount to be decided by the Auditor-General & minister of finance.
CAPE TOWN – The Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will be meeting their respective legal teams to discuss President Jacob Zuma's proposal to settle the Nkandla matter. ANALYSIS
Both parties have taken Zuma to the Constitutional Court to force him to abide by the Public Protector's remedial action relating to the saga.
In her report titled 'Secure in Comfort', which was released in 2014, Thuli Madonsela said the president should pay back a reasonable portion of the money spent on the R246 million project to improve security at his private home in KwaZulu-Natal.
Last year, the National Assembly adopted a parliamentary ad-hoc committee's findings that Zuma did not have to pay a cent for non-security features such as a swimming pool, cattle kraal and amphitheatre.
Zuma appears ready to answer the question that's been plaguing him for nearly two years, but his political opponents have to speak to their lawyers before deciding on the way forward.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane says, “We’ll certainly be consulting with our legal teams. We’re not going to enter into a process that will undermine the Public Protector’s remedial action.”
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says Zuma is trying to avoid court.
“He is not responding out of the goodness of his heart or out of understanding the importance of respecting the remedial action and recommendations of the Public Protector.”
The Nkandla matter is due to be heard in the Constitutional Court next week Tuesday, two days before the president's State of the Nation Address.
Through his lawyers, Zuma is now offering to do just that, and for the amount to be decided by the Auditor-General and minister of finance.
In its statement, the Presidency says this will bring to an end the long drawn-out dispute in a way that meets Madonsela's recommendations and that is ‘beyond political reproach’.
It's going to be hard not to read this as Zuma finally blinking in the Nkandla saga.
Considering he's always emotionally defended government's spending on the project, this is a huge turnabout.
It could mean that his lawyers have told him that he really has no other legal option and was facing the prospect of the Constitutional Court ordering him to repay that money.
That would have been humiliating and could have haunted him for the rest of his presidency.
Then there are the local government elections.
In the 2014 national polls, opposition parties used Nkandla against the African National Congress (ANC).
The ANC may well be pleased at the prospect of the issue fading away.
It also seems almost certain this is a big victory for Julius Malema and the EFF, who have owned this issue politically.
Malema may well now say this proves that he and his party have been right all along.
(Edited by Tamsin Wort)
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