At the risk of being labelled as blindly loyal, I am joining the discussion around the liability of the President for certain payment relating to upgrades at his residence.
To the extent possible, almost all participants in this debate seem to hold the Public Protector in higher regard than even the SIU such as Mcebisi Ndletyana (see http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/2014/08/21/zuma-sticking-with-signature-strategy-stall-and-obfuscate). But for some reason some of the more audible participants seem to have not read the PP report, forgot its contents (I assume this applies to Mr Ndletyana and Mr Makhombothi) or deliberately misrepresent it (I assume this applies to EFF).
Here is what the PP report says on this matter;
(xii) Appropriate remedial action to be taken on my findings of maladministration and as envisaged by section 182(1) of the Constitution is the following:
(a) The President is to:
(1) Take steps, WITH the assistance of the National Treasury and the SAPS, to determine the reasonable cost of the measures implemented by the DPW at his private residence that do not relate to security, and which include Visitors’ Centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal and chicken run and the swimming pool.
(2) Pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures as determined WITH the assistance of National Treasury, also considering the DPW apportionment document. [PP 2014, p68]
The response by the President that was submitted to Parliament last week says;
64. I deem the following to be appropriate:
63.2 [sic] the Minister of Police (SAPS) as the designated Minister under the National Key Points Act, to report to Cabinet on a determination whether the President is liable for any contribution in respect of the security upgrades in regard to the legislation, past practices, culture AND FINDINGS CONTAINED IN RESPECTIVE REPORTS. [Zuma 2014, p19]
This text was prompted by this tweet;
If so, when do you intend paying that portion? That’s a question consistent with the PPs resport & recommendation. JZ’s response ignores it.
— #FreeEducationNow (@IamMakhombothi) August 22, 2014
I read the tweet after Mr Ndletyana’s article which among others says;
Instead of answering Madonsela on whether he would pay for personal improvements on Nkandla, he defers the decision to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.
From the above quotes from the PP and the President’s response, it became clear to me that I need to remind these two people I respect of what is contained in the documents referred to.
I have made emphasis using caps and bold to illustrate the point. That the report of the Minister of Police will go to Cabinet is a tacit inclusion of Treasury, DPW, DOD and any other parties that participated in the project. Therefore the President has went beyond the scope of the PP recommendation on this aspect. My understanding is that he put the Minister of Police at the centre because his response is inclusive of other reports by SIU which may include criminal action.
I readily forgive opposition such as EFF or DA because if they misrepresent the truth if is for political gain and it is not my business that lies are part of their strategy.
I also readily forgive the journalist who have little time to read the reports when competing to be the first to publish. Their editors also let them be.
But when people I respect fall in the trap, I then begin to wonder how many more out there are falling in the same trap. Knowing the Public Protector, it is highly unlikely that she will come out and clarify that the President’s response does actually cover this aspect of her report. She will actually let everyone misrepresent her uninterrupted, probably because she is busy with other investigations.
While some among us have difficulty resisting the temptation to paint the President in a particular light, the minimum we owe ourselves, and our audience, is the truth. The disloyalty need not be blind.
On a related matter;
In anticipation of the input of the Minister of Police on this matter, my view is that whatever figure he comes up with, there is the affordability aspect that will have to be evaluated. The National Credit Act gives an extent of exemption for the borrower if the assessment shows that the lender was reckless.
While we may all agree, including the President (see p63 of PP report), that he might be liable for some of the costs, those costs arise from some of the measures he neither asked for nor budgeted for. It would be interesting to see how the matter eventually gets resolved, particularly given that some the measures may be immovable property and therefore cannot necessarily be repossessed by the State even if it wanted to.