On Thursday the Constitutional Court made its ruling on the Nkandla matter brought by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with the Democratic Alliance (DA), Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Corruption Watch later joining the court bid.
The parties wanted the court to explain whether the Public Protector’s recommendations were legally binding. They also wanted the court to make a ruling on whether President Jacob Zuma did not abide by the law when he chose to ignore the Public Protector’s recommendations.
During the ruling Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the remedial actions advised by the Public Protector were legally binding as she had identified that the chicken run, the kraal, swimming pool, visitors’ centre and the amphitheatre were classified as “non-security features”, for which Zuma had to reimburse the state.
“The purpose of the office of the Public Protector is therefore to help uproot prejudice, impropriety, abuse of power and unlawful enrichment, and corruption in state affairs in all spheres of government and state-controlled institutions,” he said.
The court heard that Zuma should have followed up on the remedial action. And that even if he doubted the correctness of action, he should still have complied with it.
Mogoeng also stated that the Public Protector was one of the most invaluable institutions in the country and that its office should not be undermined as it was tasked with guarding against corruption and the protection of the public.
By not complying, the judge found that Zuma had acted unlawfully and failed to uphold the Constitution.
“The President thus failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. This failure is manifest from the substantial disregard of the Public Protector’s remedial action,” he stated.
He continued saying that the National Assembly should also have held the President accountable for the upgrades.
In March 2014, Madonsela released her report on the security upgrades on President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla.
The report found that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the non-security upgrades. She recommended Zuma to pay back a portion of the money that was used, specifically for the non-security upgrades.
However, Zuma has continued to ignore Madonsela’s recommendations.
During court proceedings in February, the EFF’s legal representative, Wim Trengove, said that the National Assembly had also failed in its duty when it did not hold Zuma accountable for the upgrades.