ConCourt to rule on DA's 'Nkandla SMS' debacle

During last year's elections, the DA sent out a bulk SMS about the upgrades at the president’s homestead.

FILE: During last year's elections, the DA sent out a bulk SMS about the upgrades at the president’s homestead. Picture: City Press

JOHANNESBURG - As the world continues to debate freedom of speech in the wake of the Paris attacks, two of South Africa's biggest political parties will today hear a crucial judgment on "fair comment".

The battle was sparked during last year's elections and revolves around the Democratic Alliance (DA's) decision to send out a bulk SMS about the multimillion rand security upgrades at president Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma unduly benefitted from the nearly R250m upgrades to his home.

In the SMS, the DA accused Zuma of stealing taxpayer's money which the African National Congress (ANC) disputed and decided to fight in the Electoral Court.

The highest court in the land is this morning due to settle the fight between the ANC and DA over an SMS that caused much controversy.

It comes as Zuma faces a threat of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) being disrupted over the same issue.

The DA won at the High Court claiming that based on Madonsela's report, the SMS constituted fair comment.

The judge then went further than expected in his ruling, making comments about South Africa's democracy and warning against whimsical and uncontrolled use of public funds.

But the ANC struck back at the Supreme Court of Appeal when the Electoral Court ruled in its favour, supporting its argument that the DA had gone too far without the evidence to back up its comments.

The Constitutional Court will now have the final say.