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Mazibuko: Zuma, Nkandla, impeachment & you

After an investigation that lasted a year and a half, the Public Protector yesterday presented her findings on the Nkandla scandal to the South African public. In her report, the Public Protector concluded that President Zuma and his family unduly benefited from the upgrades made to the President's private Nkandla residence using R246 million of public money.

This is an unprecedented abuse of public funds by a sitting president and deserves the highest democratic sanction: impeachment and removal from office in terms of Section 89 of the Constitution. The impeachment of President Zuma is the only course of action that will prove that South Africa does not tolerate corruption in government. But it is a course of action that will also require the input of the South African public.

A President of the Republic is, first and foremost, a leader who must serve South Africans. In terms of the Constitution, the President is mandated to: "promote the unity of the nation and that which will advance the Republic." The phrase "that which will advance the Republic" is broadly drafted as the Constitution recognises the executive authority and discretion of the President - a Constitutional imperative. However, what is also clear is that every action of the President must advance the Republic - or progress and develop South Africa.

It is within this Constitutional context that we must consider President Zuma's actions in respect of Nkandla. Take a look at the extent of the frivolous upgrades to Nkandla: a cattle kraal, a chicken run, a visitors' centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a helipad and an Astroturf football pitch. Now consider that these are all additions made to President Zuma's _private _residence using public funds. These features do not in any way advance the Republic but they do advance the wealth and assets of President Zuma and his immediate family.

Add to this the fact that the President, at the very least, "tacitly accepted" the implementation of all of these measures, and we are left with three problems: we have a President who allows the misuse of public funds for his own benefit; a President who puts his personal advancement ahead of the advancement of the Republic; and a President who has seriously violated the Constitution and the Executive Members' Ethics Act. This in itself is grounds for impeachment but it most certainly also falls within the ambit of "serious misconduct" by the President, the alternative grounds for impeachment outlined in Section 89 of the Constitution.

If we consider the desperate state of many of South Africa's schools, clinics and police stations, it becomes clear how this corrupt and wasteful expenditure of public money has disadvantaged South Africans. In economic terms, this is the opportunity cost of Nkandla. When our citizens consider this opportunity cost, they are rightly left feeling outraged.

President Zuma and his ministers must explain to learners in the Eastern Cape that the reason that they are still expected to learn in mud schools is that President Zuma needed to build a kraal to keep his cattle.

President Zuma must explain to the residents of Mothutlung that the reason there is no money to fix the water pumps in Madibeng is because President Zuma needed a swimming pool for those long hot Nkandla days.

He must explain to the residents of Gauteng that they need to pay e-tolls to fix their roads because the public money in the fiscus is being used to build roads around his home in Nkandla.

A worthy president would never have put South Africa in this position.

That is why this unprecedented abuse of public money by a sitting President requires an unprecedented sanction by Parliament: the removal of the President in terms of section 89 of the Constitution.

The impeachment of President Zuma is the appropriate course of action for Parliament to take given the damning findings of the Public Protector's Nkandla report. Parliament appoints the president after an election. It oversees his conduct in office, and it must exercise its right to hold him accountable if he is found guilty of wrongdoing and fire him from office.

Impeachment should never be taken lightly. However, given the flagrant misuse of funds, the ensuing attempts to cover up the truth on Nkandla by members of the Cabinet, and their attempts to interfere with the Public Protector's investigation, President Zuma has left us no choice.

Impeachment will permanently remove Jacob Zuma as President of South Africa. He will not be eligible to stand for re-election in any public office and he will not receive any benefits of the office of the President. It is clear that President Zuma has already received too many benefits from the people of South Africa.

The process of impeachment is very straightforward. The Fourth Parliament, which was constituted following the 2009 General Elections, is still in session. It will only cease on election day, 7 May 2014, and until such time may still take decisions. This is ample time within which to consider the impeachment motion. The National Assembly is in recess and will have to be recalled by the Speaker.

In the circumstances, the Speaker is duty bound to either: recall the National Assembly for a vote on the motion of impeachment, or to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter. The Speaker must act and cannot refrain from taking a course of action.

In order to be successful, this process requires the support of every South African who shares our outrage over this flagrant abuse of public money. South Africans must come out in force against this corruption and maladministration by calling and writing to their Members of Parliament. No matter what their political affiliation, MPs represent the South African people and are ultimately accountable to them.

By lobbying your local MP, you can sway their vote away from strict party lines.

In order to contact your MP, contact the local office of the political party that you support. Alternatively, the DA has started an "Impeach Zuma" petition.

The time for Parliament to consider the impeachment motion is now. In addition, on 7 May, every South African will once again have the opportunity to impeach President Zuma. I strongly urge all South Africans to vote for a party that actively fights corruption in government - to vote for a DA government.

I first wrote to the Public Protector asking her to investigate the reports of misuse of public funds in Nkandla on 30 September 2012. Since then, the DA in Parliament has worked hard to seek answers on Nkandla while the ANC has tried to cover it up.

The DA fought the classification of the Department of Public Works' Ministerial Task Team Report on Nkandla as 'top secret'. The DA won this fight when this report was eventually released and it was revealed that the classification of this report as 'top secret' by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi was unlawful and false.

The DA objected to the declaration of Nkandla as a National Key Point by Minister Nathi Mththwa in terms of a legislative remnant of the Apartheid regime - the National Key Points Act. In response, I tabled the Crucial Infrastructure Bill as a private members' bill in Parliament which is intended to repeal the National Key Points Act.

Where the DA governs, we have a zero tolerance approach to corruption. The DA in the Western Cape prevents public officials and their immediate families from doing business with the provincial government. The ANC has refused to implement this measure in the national government or in any ANC run provinces.

A vote for the DA is a vote against Nkandla, against corruption and against a President that places himself above the citizens. The culture of corruption and flagrant maladministration under Zuma's ANC must be stopped. While we in the DA continue to do everything in our power to hold President Zuma to account for this injustice, the size of the ANC's parliamentary majority continues to put our efforts in jeopardy. A vote for the DA on 7 May will change the face of parliamentary politics and enable us to hold the governing party accountable for its actions.

We can fight corruption in South Africa and win. That fight begins with you.

Lindiwe Mazibuko is an MP and parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance.