Why President Zuma must go
Many South Africans from all walks of life and across the political spectrum are calling for the resignation and impeachment of President Jacob Zuma. In the light of a thoroughly researched and meticulously presented report by the Public Protector into the Nkandla matter, these calls seem more than justified.
The Public Protector found that “the President failed to apply his mind to the contents of the Declaration of his private residence as a National Key Point and specifically failed to implement security measures at own cost as directed”.
We agree with the view of the Public Protector, that the President, as the head of South Africa, is “the ultimate guardian of the resources of the people of South Africa” and “failed to discharge his responsibilities” in this regard.
He also, albeit perhaps unintentionally according to the Public Protector, conducted himself in a way that “could accordingly be legitimately construed as misleading Parliament”.
The Public Protector has instructed that the amount by which the President personally and unduly benefited from the R246 million spent by the state on his private home must be determined. Millions of rands will have to be paid back by him.
But no amount of money can restore public confidence and trust in the character and competency of this president.
The excessive and luxurious expenditure on the President’s personal residence is grotesque and unconscionable in a country struggling to find political and economic solutions to massive inequality, a country where millions of his fellow citizens live in very difficult material circumstances, in shacks without basic services, without food security, without even personal safety.
The head of state is not expected to live an ascetic life. But he should certainly not behave in a way that is a slap in the face of the poor. He should have at the very least in the view of the Public Protector “asked questions regarding the scale, cost and affordability of the Nkandla Project. He may have also benchmarked with some of his colleagues. He also may have asked whose idea were some of these measures and viewed them with circumspection”.
Jacob Zuma entered the presidency under a cloud of distrust. He had been dismissed by his former incumbent because of corruption charges pending against him, charges which to this day remain unanswered.
In the light of the Public Protector’s report, those who were previously willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, must now be wondering if they were wrong all along.
With her report, the Public Protector has taken a long overdue and urgently needed stand against the misuse of “security reasons” to excuse all manner of abuse by the state and its officials.
Abuse of this nature has become a worldwide problem.
Thuli Madonsela has stood up to these securocrats, called their bluff and exposed them for all their bombast and chicanery.
The public owe her a great debt of gratitude. They now need to stand behind the person who has put herself in the firing line protecting their best interests.
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