Editorials 20.3.2014 07:00 am

Trust in govt is undermined

If President Jacob Zuma had any sense of moral responsibility he would resign in the wake of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on R246 million of taxpayers’ money spent on his private Nkandla residence.

So, too, would Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi. They should all be ashamed. But they operate by a different compass. With the help of sycophantic aides, Zuma employs every possible ruse to avoid responsibility. Lately that has included a campaign to discredit Madonsela.

Despite forces intent on thwarting her, Madonsela has done this country a service by showing that Zuma and family benefited unduly from the improvements at Nkandla. While many of the upgrades could have been for security, this did not apply to the swimming pool, the kraal, chicken run, amphitheatre and extensive paving.

It is appropriate that Zuma should repay a portion of the expenditure on non-security features.

Although she found he violated the executive ethics code by failing to act to protect state resources, Madonsela was gentle with Zuma on the question of whether he misled Parliament. She found that any misleading on his part could have been unwitting. He made a “bona fide mistake”, addressing Parliament “in good faith and was not thinking about the visitors’ centre, but his family dwelling, when he made the statement”.

Madonsela’s critics claim the report and its timing are political, aimed at influencing the elections. Yet the timing is due to delays caused by those implicated.

Whether the report will make a difference at the polls is unclear. Although Zuma has been booed lately, voter loyalty to the ANC brand may remain overriding.

Yet somehow the country needs to get rid of this self-serving leadership. As Madonsela noted, trust in government has been undermined.

 

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