31 March 2016
South Africans rejoice as the highest court in South Africa, the constitutional court finds President Zuma in violation of the constitution. The court has since ordered him to pay back some of the public fund he used to renovate his private residence Nkandla.
When 2009, the Mail and Guardian broke the news that South African President, Jacob Zuma’s home was being upgraded for the cost of R65 million, no one knew the renovation would give rise to a controversy which would be dragged far into the year 2016. Most people also did not expect that South Africans would get justice.
Thus, it was very understandable when one of the Justices of the Constitutional court, Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, compared the case to the biblical story of David and Goliath; the Goliath of corruption being the President himself.
In 2012, the office of the Public Protector headed by Thuli Mandosela started investigating the issue and in 2014 ruled that the President was guilty of corruption and unduly benefiting from the renovations.
In her report, she ordered the President to pay back some of the money which was estimated to be at $23m. President Zuma refused to pay back, saying at a parliament session in 2014 that he paid for the renovations of his Nkandla homestead by himself.
In 2015, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Public Protector Thuli Mandosela took the matter to the constitutional court. The issue before the court was to compel the President to comply with the Public Protector’s report of 2014 thereby paying for all non-security upgrades to his homestead.
The court, upholding the supremacy of the constitution, that the failure to repay the money was inconsistent with the constitution and that the remedial action taken by the Public Protector was binding.
South Africans are saying, no one, not even the President is above the law.