The Constitutional Court has ruled that Parliament failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable for spending taxpayers’ money upgrading his private Nkandla home.
‘We conclude that the National Assembly did not hold the President to account as per the Constitution. It failed to perform its duty including its obligation to hold the President accountable,” Justice Chris Jafta said on Friday.
The matter was heard by a full bench in September as three opposition parties – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Congress of the People (Cope) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) – argued that speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete should have done more to investigate and possibly start impeachment proceedings against Zuma for the misuse of public funds at his Nkandla homestead and for his failure to implement former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial actions.
The parties sought an order declaring that Mbete failed to put in place all appropriate mechanisms to hold Zuma accountable.
They also sought an order compelling Mbete to establish a fact finding committee, or any independent body, to investigate Zuma’s conduct and determine whether he is guilty of any offence.
Friday’s ruling places pressure on Parliament to act.
In March last year, the Constitutional Court delivered a damning ruling in which it stated that Zuma had failed to “uphold, defend and respect the Constitution” when he did not adhere to the remedial actions called for by Madonsela.
Madonsela issued a report three years ago in which she stated that the millions that went into upgrading Zuma’s Nkandla homestead had not all been rightfully used. Madonsela found that Zuma had derived undue benefit from the security upgrades at his home with costs that ballooned to more than R200-million and eventually included a swimming pool, cattle kraal and amphitheatre, all added to Zuma’s home at taxpayer’s cost.