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ConCourt: DA's 'Nkandla SMS' was fair comment

The DA sent out a bulk SMS about Nkandla during last year’s elections.

FILE: The Constitutional Court. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has sided with the Democratic Alliance (DA) in a legal battle over a controversial SMS sent in the run up to last year's elections, finding that it constituted fair comment.

During last year's elections, the Democratic Alliance (DA) sent out a bulk SMS about the multimillion rand security upgrades at the president's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

The highest court in the land was asked to review a decision of the Electoral Court which agreed with the African National Congress (ANC)'s challenge against the text message.

The Constitutional Court has found the SMS sent to over 1 million people by the DA did not violate the electoral code and act.

The court said that the SMS was the opposition party's opinion and not fact and therefore the DA did not break the law by sending the SMS.

The court also found that it was unnecessary to rule on whether the SMS was false and ordered the judgement of the Electoral Court to be set aside with costs.

The text followed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings that Zuma and his family unduly benefitted from the upgrades to his Nkandla home.

In the SMS, the DA accused Zuma of stealing taxpayers'money, which the ANC disputed and decided to fight in the Electoral Court.

The SMS debacle comes as Zuma faces a threat to his State of the Nation Address (Sona) being disrupted over the same issue.