Amanda Watson
News Editor
3 minute read
12 Apr 2014
2:53 pm

Nkandla SMS row: Round two goes to ANC

Amanda Watson

The ANC was granted leave to appeal on Saturday against the South Gauteng High Court ruling it was fair comment to say the Nkandla report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela showed President Jacob Zuma stole your money to build his R246 million home.

FILE PICTURE: The DA sent out an SMS accusing President Jacob Zuma of stealing public money. The move has resulted in court action.

The ANC and DA faced off again in front of Acting Judge Michael Hellens SC who made the original order.

“We are very excited the judge gave us leave to appeal. We were convinced that indeed our perseverance would pay off,” said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

Last week the ANC had dragged the DA to court after being challenged by DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko over a bulk SMS to more than 1.5 million subscribers which read in part: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home.”

Said Mthembu: “The Electoral Act says to falsely accuse anybody, including the president, during election time, is prohibited.

“We believe the Electoral Court will clearly find that the DA act in this regard that their SMS is false and as such the SMS has tried to influence the outcome of the election.”

While this was taking place in the High Court, the DA candidate for Gauteng Premier, Mmusi Maimane, was campaigning in Soweto, although they did have a legal team present in court.

Mthembu said the ANC would be in court next week. “We are excited, this is in the interest of the nation, this is in the interest of the country that no-one should use falsehoods to woo voters so they vote incorrectly.”

He added that this was a victory for the people of South Africa.

Earlier this week Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu announced an ad hoc committee was formed to consider President Jacob Zuma responses to Madonsela’s report on upgrades to his Nkandla home.

In a statement, Parliament said the ad hoc committee would consist of seven African National Congress members, two Democratic Alliance, one Inkatha Freedom Party plus one more from an unnamed party.

In his judgment on Saturday, Hellens said: “…I do not feel that the application has strong or substantial prospects of success. However having analysed my judgment, my conscience, assiduously and harshly, I am far from persuaded that on the narrower level the application has any strength of prospect of success.

“However I am persuaded that the Electoral Court which is the Supreme Court of appeal in relation to these matters, should have the final say, if not even a higher court on a matter of such importance to the nation and that the mechanics of the Electoral legislation that I have looked at should be looked at as well as the true underlying elements of the application.”

When making his finding, Hellens noted: “In the circumstances, although unpersuaded to one extent, on the multifaceted nature of an application of a leave to appeal, on balance I am persuaded that this court should grant leave to the Electoral Court and therefore the order I make is that leave to appeal is granted to the applicant for leave to appeal … to the Electoral Court.”

 

What the fuss is about:

Electoral Act, section 89 – Intentional false statements:

(1) No person, when required in terms of this Act to make a statement, may make the statement-

(a) knowing that it is false; or

(b) without believing on reasonable grounds that the statement is true.

(2) No person may publish any false information with the intention of-

(a) disrupting or preventing an election;

(b) creating hostility or fear in order to influence the conduct or outcome of an election; or

(c) influencing the conduct or outcome of an election.