Triumph for the rule of law in South Africa?
1 April 2016
The leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has called for President Zuma to be impeached following the Constitutional Court’s finding that he had flouted the Constitution by failing to “uphold, defend and respect the Constitution.”
The case was brought by the Democratic Alliance, amongst others, seeking validity for the Public Protector’s remedial action against the President. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had reported that Zuma should reimburse the country the money he has spent on upgrades to his palatial homestead. As a course of this remedial action, she recommended that he pay back a portion of the funds used for the upgrades. But this report was set aside by the National Assembly after Zuma made submissions on why he should not pay back the funds.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, giving judgment for the Court, said that the remedial action had a binding effect.
Unsurprisingly, the nation pins its hopes on [the President] to steer the country in the right direction and accelerate our journey towards a peaceful, just and prosperous destination, that all other progress-driven nations strive towards on a daily basis…
…Whether the Public Protector’s decisions amount to administrative action or not, the disregard for remedial action by those adversely affected by it, amounts to taking the law into their own hands and is illegal. No binding and constitutionally or statutorily sourced decision may be disregarded willy-nilly.
…The National Treasury must determine the reasonable costs of those measures implemented by the Department of Public Works at the President’s Nkandla homestead that do not relate to security, namely the visitors’ centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal, the chicken run and the swimming pool …
The National Treasury must report back to this Court on the outcome of its determination within 60 days of the date of this order. The President must personally pay the amount determined by the National Treasury […] within 45 days of this Court’s signification of its approval of the report.
A full summary of the judgment will be posted as soon as the transcript becomes available on the Constitutional Court website.