4 February 2016

South Africa: Nkandla Parties Must Decide On Settlement - Concourt

The Constitutional Court will not yet play a role in President Jacob Zuma's proposal on repaying some of the money spent on his Nkandla homestead.

"I have been requested by the court to inform you that the settlement proposal is a matter for the parties to decide and calls for no directions from the court at this stage," the Constitutional Court registrar wrote in a letter to the parties on Wednesday.

The court gave the DA, EFF, and Public Protector until 16:00 on Friday to reply to Zuma's offer, so it could determine whether their decisions would affect the scheduled court hearing next week Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Zuma sent a letter to the court to suggest that it order the Auditor General and finance minister to determine how much he should pay back for the multi-million rand upgrades to non-security features at his home in Nkandla. Zuma was prepared to pay for the visitors' centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal, chicken run and the swimming pool.

There was a "need for finality", Zuma's lawyers said.

It appeared to be a bid to avoid the court confrontation and disruptions to Zuma's state of the nation address at the opening of Parliament on Thursday. Last year, the EFF delayed his speech with calls for him to "pay back the money" and its MPs were eventually forced out of the National Assembly.

The Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance were due to argue in the Constitutional Court next Tuesday that Zuma needed to comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendations and repay a reasonable part of the R246m spent on renovations at Nkandla.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane told the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday morning that they would not accept Zuma's proposal. The DA wanted the matter heard in court so it could make a ruling on the public protector's powers.

The EFF and Madonsela had not yet expressed opinions on Zuma's move. The EFF was expected to brief the media on the matter at noon on Thursday.

Madonsela released her report, Secure in Comfort, in March 2014, in which she recommended that the president pay a reasonable portion of the R246m spent on upgrades to his home that were not security features.

Since then, Zuma has stalled, and asked the SIU and police minister to compile their own reports on Nkandla.

Source: News24

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