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ANC willing to apologise, but says not obliged to

The party’s Gwede Mantashe said the ruling party was willing to apologise if there was a need to do so.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) says it is willing to apologise to the nation following a Constitutional Court judgment that found President Jacob Zuma to have acted in an inconsistent manner to the highest law of the land, but does not believe it is obliged to do so.

The party has responded following the judgment on Thursday which found that Zuma and Parliament failed to uphold, respect and defend the Constitution through his handling of the Nkandla scandal.

The ANC has also come out in support of Zuma, saying it appreciates his apology and believes neither he nor Parliament intended to break their oaths.

The party's Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the top six were unanimous in their response to the Constitutional Court's judgment.

Mantashe said the ruling party is willing to apologise if there is a need to do so.

"The ANC is willing to offer an apology, if we're called upon to do that, we'll do it."

But he also said the party does have to because it was not mentioned in the Constitutional Court judgment.

"We're not party to that case, and deliberately so it was a case against state, that's why when the order comes, it doesn't say the president must reprimand the ANC among others."

The party said its most urgent priority is to have the 11 orders of the judgment implemented.

Mantashe also hit out at opposition parties, saying they overreacted and that the ANC is growing weary of their attempts to have the ruling party tear itself apart.

"So my own view is that opposition forces are making that call knowingly that it's the call for the ANC to tear itself apart. And let me explain this further and say, it will be a sick organisation which will take action because the main opposition party is calling for it or EFF is calling for it."

Zuma emphatically stated that his response to the Public Protector's report, ordering him to repay some of the money report, was in good faith but based on unsound legal advice.

Zuma said he deeply regretted that the saga dragged on for so long and has promised to repay the amount, which will be calculated by the Treasury, spent on his private residence.

"The intention was not in pursuit of corrupt ends or to use state resources to unduly benefit me and my family. Hence I've agreed to pay for the identified items once a determination is made."

'WHITEWASH'

Analysts were also unimpressed.

"It's a gutless whitewash. And it was an opportunity missed to take the country into his confidence and say I messed up and this is how we are going to deal with it," said Gary van Staden, political analyst at NKC African Economics.

"It also means the politics of this will drag on, which is not good for the country because it means a period of uncertainty that we don't need," he said.

The opposition has launched impeachment proceedings against Zuma but these are unlikely to be successful because of the ANC's strong majority in parliament.

However, some South Africans believe the scandal could still bring Zuma down by persuading some in the ANC, which has run South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, to abandon him.

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