In an address to the nation on Friday (1 April 2016), President Jacob Zuma said that he would respect the ruling of the Constitutional Court, and would pay a portion of the fees for Nkandla.
The president used his address to welcome the decision by the court, and to defend his actions surrounding the Nkandla matter.
Zuma said that he had always maintained that he would pay back the money – but relied on parallel processes to determine the amount he owed.
He said he never knowingly set out to violate the constitution – he simply followed a “different approach” which he understood to be legal at the time.
That approach, however, was later proven to be counter to the constitution, Zuma said.
The Constitutional Court of South Africa on Thursday ruled that president Jacob Zuma failed to uphold, defend, and respect the Constitution as supreme law of land.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng handed down judgement on a matter brought before the court by the EFF and DA against Zuma, regarding the long-drawn Nkandla saga.
The judgment related to the non-security upgrades – paid for by the taxpayer – at President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
Mogoeng said in an unanimous judgment that remedial action ordered by the Public Protector could not be ignored without legal consequence – and that president Jacob Zuma should have challenged the report through a judicial process before disregarding it.
Addressing the Public Protector’s report, Zuma maintained that he had no knowledge of what was being paid for in the Nkandla project, mentioning it was up to the department of public works to handle it.
Hopes for a resignation
Following the ConCourt ruling, Zuma opponents rallied in celebration of the verdict, with the president’s main political opposition – in the EFF and the DA – calling for the president to step down.
The DA moved a step beyond simple calls, and immediately moved to have the president impeached.
Despite the calls and hopes from opposition parties for the president to use the address to resign, the president said that all of his actions were done in “good faith”, with no direct move to subvert the constitution.
“I apologize on my behalf, and on behalf of government,” Zuma said.