JOHANNESBERG APRIL 4, 2016 (CISA) – The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has expressed its contentment with the ruling from the Constitutional Court on Thursday 31 March.
The court ruled that President Jacob Zuma, failed to uphold the constitution when he ignored a state order to repay some of the government funds used in an £11M upgrade to his private residence.
The bishops said in a statement that the Constitution Court “has served to restore the faith of the people in the constitutional integrity of our nation, and goes a long way towards upholding accountability in the Office of the President.”
The court also ruled that parliament, which is dominated by the ruling African National Congress, had failed in its obligations by not holding Zuma to account. “Members of Parliament are meant to represent the interests of the South Africans who voted them into office,” the Bishops noted, “however, the actions of the National Assembly point to a complete disregard for the millions of South Africans.
This begs the question: is our National Assembly truly representative of the nation? Or has it deteriorated into an ‘individual assembly’, where ‘Honourable’ seats in the house are given by the party hierarchy as deposits into a ‘favour-bank’, from which withdrawals will be made, even at the expense of the Constitution?”
The SACC also called on its leadership to “formally approach the President and the governing party to request that Mr. Zuma’s position be reviewed. While we continue to listen and, like all South Africans, mull over this body blow to our constitutional system of governance, we call on the ANC to take stock of this damage to the country and its integrity.“
The constitutional court further ordered that President Zuma must personally pay back the cost of those improvements to his residence, Nkandla, that were not essential for security, including a cattle enclosure, a visitor centre and a chicken run.
“The national treasury should determine the reasonable costs within 60 days,” the judges ruled, with Mr. Zuma required to pay the bill a month later.
President Zuma has since retracted, “The matter has caused a lot of frustration and confusion for which I apologise on my behalf and on behalf of government.”
The case was raised by Thuli Madonsela, alongside the country’s largest opposition parties; the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters party, led by President Zuma’s long-time rival Julius Malema.