It has been a roller coaster ride for the public protector Thuli Madonsela since she presented her report aptly called ‘Secure in Comfort’ in Pretoria on Wednesday afternoon. This was a report on the so called security upgrades on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home in KwaZulu Natal. In her report, Madonsela found that the Zuma family had benefited from the upgrades which had been paid for by government and further recommended that the president pay back a reasonable proportion of the about R246m, the conservative estimate of the cost of the upgrades.
The first and most dramatic of these reactions came from the opposition political parties. The Democratic Alliance national spokesman, Mmusi Maimane went to the police at Nkandla and laid charges of corruption against Jacob Zuma at the charge office. The new kid on the block, Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters did not bother himself about matters of jurisdiction or protocol for that matter. He and his entourage went to the Sunnyside Police station and laid charges of corruption, theft, fraud and racketeering against the president. He further called on Zuma to resign in twenty days or his party would march to the Union Buildings everyday until he did. He changed his statement from wanting to die for Zuma to being willing to die for the constitution. In keeping with his style, Malema did not lay his charges in the charge office as is standard but with the officer in charge.
Another party that has lent it’s voice to the call for the stepping down of the ANC leader is the FF Plus. Pieter Groenwald, an MP in the party reiterated the call for Zuma to step down or he should face impeachment adding that he should repay the taxpayers’ money that was used in the upgrade of his home. Congress of the people, on the other hand, did not join the other parties in calling for the impeachment of the president but said that theR246m was peanuts compared with the R170bn which has been wasted under the Zuma administration.
The ANC on the other hand, through its various arms, has come out in defence of its leader, with the youth league convenor Mzwandile Masina calling for the resignation of the Public Protector. According to the ANCYL, Zuma is innocent until found guilty by a court of law. The women’s league, in its turn, has lambasted the other political parties for the opportunistic stance they have taken since the report was released. Their statement says the Madonsela report is no different from the Inter-ministerial Taskforce which stated that the state did not upgrade Nkandla. On the other hand, members of the ANC in the North West, after initially saying that the president would study the report and make a statement, have backtracked and advised the president to ignore the report completely.
It has, however, not been doom and gloom for Advocate Madonsela. Her office has received support from the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation. The statement from the foundation commended her bravery in compiling and presenting such a report. It went on to castigate her detractors, saying the statement made by the ruling party that the timing of the release of the report was a deliberate political ploy on her part was ‘scandalous nonsense’.