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Nkandla: Zuma to respond in writing

Mac Maharaj says there is a standard procedure which Jacob Zuma will stick to.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's office says he will meet Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla deadline by responding in writing to the Speaker of Parliament before the end of the day.

In her findings two weeks ago, Madonsela found that Zuma benefitted from upgrades which had nothing to do with security, violated the executive ethics code and should pay back a portion of the money spent.

A 2010 aerial view of Nkandla taken off Google Earth.

An aerial view of Nkandla taken in August 2013.

Madonsela gave Zuma until today to account to Parliament.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj says there is a standard procedure which Zuma will stick to.

"He's required to submit the report and his comments to the National Assembly. Usually he submits to the Speaker of Parliament."

The pressure is on National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu to take the final decision on how Parliament should handle Madonsela's damning report on the upgrades.

The Democratic Alliance is pushing for the matter to be debated before the country goes to the polls in next month's elections and wants a vote on Zuma's impeachment.

But Zuma says he never asked for any upgrades at Nkandla and has no plans to refund the state.

'NKANDLA AFFECTS BY-ELECTIONS'

The Centre for the Study of Democracy's Steven Friedman rejected the ANC's claim that Nkandla is the preoccupation of the media.

Gwede Mantashe addresses the media on the outcomes of its NEC meeting on the weekend. Picture: EWN.

He says it's a scandal that affects by-elections and is addressed in the ANC's internal documents and is a concern in trade union movements.

Friedman says the president's formal response is not likely to deviate from the line he took while speaking in Cape Town on Sunday.

Video: ANC sticks by Zuma.

"He will say he and his family didn't benefit and that's the line he will hold in the future and into the elections."

The ANC's Gwede Mantashe, however, criticised journalists when pushed on whether Zuma would respond in time.

"What are you going to ask when he responds in 14 days."

Madonsela's report also calls on Zuma to discipline his ministers.

WHAT ZUMA MAY WANT TO ACHIEVE

The president may have two main aims.

The first is to comply with the law and to be seen to respect the Public Protector's office.

The second may be to make sure that this issue is brought to a close to stop the damaging reports against him.

This means he may want to provide an explanation of which parts of her report he will comply with.

However, if he decides to reject some of Madonsela's findings, it may be difficult to explain how the construction seemed to happen around him without his knowledge.

Thuli Madonsela at a Nkandla discussion at Wits University on 20 March 2014. Picture: EWN.

This means his lawyers may have to provide some careful explanations.

COSATU'S WESTERN CAPE RESPONDS TO NKANDLA

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich believes that if the president spoke out in depth about the Nkandla debacle, it would in some way help the country.

Ehrenreich, in his personal capacity, posted a Facebook message calling on Zuma to respond to the Public Protector's findings.

Ehrenreich says as the head of government it is the president's moral responsibility to do this.

"I am a clear supporter of the ANC but I believe matters like this require leadership. I think Zuma must demonstrate the ethical and moral direction to ensure that the country can get peace with this matter so that we can move on and continue to build the country in line with our commitments to our people."

Video: Nkandla eroding public trust.

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