Editorials 1.4.2014 07:00 am

Zuma needs new advisors

It has taken President Jacob Zuma nearly two weeks to break his silence on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning report on the scandalous spending of public funds on his private home.

In his response Zuma has ignored Madonsela’s recommendations, in particular that he repay some of the money spent on non-security items, including a cattle kraal, a swimming pool, a visitors’ centre and an amphitheatre.

Like in all previous scandals in which he was implicated, Zuma has pleaded ignorance and chosen to play victim instead of taking responsibility.

Despite Madonsela finding that he and his family benefitted unduly from the multi-million rand state-funded makeover, Zuma is adamant he did nothing wrong.

He instead shifted the blame to government officials, saying he did not ask for the renovations and he would not repay any money.

“I’ve done nothing wrong. Even if they look underneath a tree or a rock they won’t find anything against me. I’m not guilty. I’ve never asked anyone for help with the upgrades,” Zuma said in Cape Town at the weekend.

Speaking on news channel ANN7, Zuma said: “They did this without telling me, so why should I pay for something I did not ask for.”

Whoever is advising Zuma is not doing a great job. The question Zuma must answer is: if he didn’t ask for the upgrades, why did he not stop them from taking place? As head of state, it is Zuma’s duty to see to it that the nation’s resources are protected and not abused for personal gain.

For Zuma to be so arrogant in his response to a scandal that has angered so many South Africans shows a chronic lack of shame on his part.

That Zuma sees nothing wrong in splurging in excess of R200 million on his private residence when millions of his people are trapped in grinding poverty speaks volumes about a man who was sold to the electorate as a champion of the poor.

 

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