A man who thinks that the Rule of Law does not apply to him deserves to be impeached
5 April 2016
In the last week there have been two institutions that have come out tops, and two that have failed miserably. The winners have been the Public Protector and the Constitutional Court. The losers have been the President and the National Assembly.
The National Assembly and the Ad Hoc Committee were found wanting by the Court, whatever spin the Speaker tries to put on it.
The Chief Justice said:
There was everything wrong with the National Assembly stepping into the shoes of the Public Protector, by passing a resolution that purported effectively to nullify the findings made and the remedial action taken, by the Public Protector and replacing it with its own findings and “remedial action”. This, the rule of law is dead against … by passing that resolution, the National Assembly effectively flouted its obligations.
Speaking of spin, Mr Gwede Mantashe said the following on Friday night:
The EFF asked for a particular declaratory order and the DA asked for a particular declaratory order. They asked specifically for a particular declaratory order, which SC Gauntlett said “that the declaratory order that is asked for is in preparation for impeachment”. The court has not made that declaratory order.
Then he goes on to say –
If that order was made as requested, maybe we would be having a different discussion.
Mr Mantashe needs to read paragraph 103 of the judgment. The Court did make the declaratory orders requested by the DA and the EFF. Does this mean that we are going to have a different discussion?
But it was really the President whose conduct was excoriated. After years of stonewalling, evasiveness, ducking and diving, obfuscation and prevarication, the President was forced by the Constitutional Court to admit he was wrong. Despite this damning judgement, the President’s statement on Friday night contained still more choice half-truths, such as:
It was never my intention not to comply with the remedial action taken against me by the Public Protector or to disregard her office.
I have consistently stated that I would pay an amount towards the Nkandla non-security upgrades …
I never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the Constitution …
The finding by the Court that my failure to comply with the remedial action taken against me by the Public Protector is inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore invalid, flows from the fact that I initially followed a different approach …
The intention was not in pursuit of corrupt ends or to use state resources to unduly benefit me and my family.
Madam Speaker, the Democratic Alliance does not believe him. The opposition does not believe him. And the people of South Africa do not believe him.
From the start, he demeaned the Public Protector and frustrated her enquiries. He refused to answer her questions fully or at all. He questioned her methodology. He appointed other persons and institutions to investigate what she had already investigated, with the deliberate intention of calling into question the findings she had made, and the remedial action she had ordered.
The President further described the Public Protector’s report as “tainted by lack of proper procedure”. He said that she had “not applied the rules of natural justice”. He argued that the report “suffers from a lack of integrity”. Does this sound like a man who respects and has regard for the Public Protector?
The “initial approach” that the President followed was not “different”, it was plainly wrong. The Public Protector told him it was wrong, in her letters sent to him on 2 October 2014 and 15 June 2015. The opposition parties told him it was wrong in the reports we submitted on 12 November 2014 and 23 June 2015.
The President knew his approach was wrong, because he knew that he and his family had unduly benefitted from the upgrades. This is the finding by the Public Protector in paragraphs 10.5.2 and 10.5.3 of her Report. But the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) also found that he and his family had benefitted from upgrades that were not required by the SAPS or the SANDF. Over and above the features identified by the Public Protector – the swimming pool (yes, it’s a swimming pool), the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal and chicken run and the visitors’ centre – these included air conditioning in his homes, tunnels, lifts, basement parking for 24 vehicles, the relocation of houses, landscaping, civil and electrical work.
The President said on Friday that he “never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the Constitution”. That is simply not true. When President Al-Bashir was allowed to visit and to leave South Africa in breach of our international obligations, the President “knowingly and deliberately” violated section 231 of our Constitution. When President Zuma appointed Adv. Menzi Simelane as the NDPP, he was found by the Constitutional Court to have acted irrationally, and to have violated his constitutional responsibilities. And when President Zuma failed to comply with the remedial action by the Public Protector, his action was found by the Constitutional Court to be invalid and inconsistent with section 83(b) of the Constitution.
This is not ignorance of the Constitution. These are the actions of a man who thinks that he is above the Constitution, and who thinks that the rule of law does not apply to him. These are the actions of a man who has flouted his oath of office, which calls on him to “obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other law of the Republic”. These are the actions of a man who quite simply does not deserve the title of President of the Republic of South Africa.
Issued by James Selfe, Chairperson of the Federal Executive, DA, 5 April 2016