The ANC NEC has come out in support of its leader, saying President was still ‘the face of ANC’. This is what the Secretary General of the ruling party said in response to questions by members of the the media fraternity on Monday afternoon at the Luthuli House.
Gwede Mantashe said that the top decision making body of the ANC did not spend as much time as the media seems to have liked. He alluded to the fact that the Nkandla debacle was actually the shortest item on the agenda of the committee’s weekend meeting in the Mother City. He brought attention to the fact that the Nkandla report was not about the president but about the Nkandla project. However, he would not be drawn into commenting on whether he felt that Jacob Zuma should repay the money as proposed by Madonsela but only advised everybody not to rush into making statements ahead of the Wednesday deadline.
In her report into the use of public funds on Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home, the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela found that the President and his family benefitted from the non-security upgrades that included visitors quarters, a swimming pool and a chicken run to his Nkandla home. She further advised the president to repay those state funds that were used for these upgrades. The president was given two weeks from the date of release of the report to respond to it as well as to table it before parliament.
Meanwhile, the president, in his first statement regarding the report, said over the weekend that he did not feel that he had to pay anything back to the state. He argued that he did not ask for the upgrades to be made at his homestead and therefore did not owe anyone anything. He was speaking at a rally this weekend.
In her response to the hordes of criticism levelled against her mostly by members of the ANC, Thuli Madonsela, the Public Protector, seemed unruffled and said that she believed that the criticism was just a way of jostling for positions by the members concerned. Quoted in the Star newspaper, Madonsela was apparently making reference to the attack that was leveled against her by the ANC Chief Whip Stone Sezani, who said South African Ombudsman had exceeded her parliamentary mandate by requiring the president to make a response to which Thuli replied that she was only following the law.