Nkandla reimbursement announced to avoid consitutional crisis – Dr Ina Gouws
Just more than a week before his State of the Nation Address, and exactly a week before his appearance in the Constitutional Court, State President Jacob Zuma has caused quite an upset by offering to reimburse a portion of the funds spent on the upgrading of his Nkandla homestead.
The Presidency made the announcement late on Tuesday night after prolonged parliamentary debates, public discourse and campaigns from several opposition parties to "pay back the money". The President proposed that the Constitutional Court tasks the Auditor General to determine the amount for which he will be held liable for, pertaining to upgrades made to his Nkandla homestead.
|Dr. Ina Gouws|
Dr. Ina Gouws, Political Analyst and Senior Lecturer at the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal), is of the opinion that this announcement will not necessarily make life any easier for the President. While many speculate that the timing of the release of the statement was made to coincide with the State of the Nation Address - that is taking place next Thursday, Dr. Gouws says that it will not make any difference to President Zuma on the day.
Reasons for the announcement
"President Zuma is proposing this as a solution to a problem, but it is not perceived as such, " says Dr. Gouws. "It is seen as an intervention to manoeuvre himself out of a Constitutional Court dilemma – one which he has created for himself. The EFF has again threatened to disrupt the day's proceedings. This announcement and any additional security measures will therefore not aid the Presidency much. We are at a point where the president's credibility has just suffered too much damage. "
She furthermore argues that the reason for this announcement rather lies with the president's appearance before the Constitutional Court. The EFF's legal action against the president is scheduled for next week Thursday and any decision of the Court will enforce the Public Protector's findings. “A judgment of the Constitutional Court against the president will mean that the Public Protector's findings will in future be binding and therefore, prescriptive. It is for this reason that the EFF and UDM have already stated that the two parties are not satisfied with the proposed offer and that the legal process must be allowed to take its course.”
"What makes this announcement even more interesting is that it serves as a clear indication that the mounting public and political pressure eventually forced the president to give in," Dr. Gouws continues. "This means that within the ranks of the ANC’s National Executive this issue is deemed of such importance that it needs to be addressed immediately, especially with the elections taking place soon. At different levels, in different areas, the party is in trouble. The ANC will at all costs want to avoid having to recall another president. "
Dr. Gouws believes that there are several viewpoints within the party and, that all within the party is not well.
"After the last Legotla it is clear that there are different factions within the party," she says. "Some in favour of the President, some for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Premier League and Matthews Phosa - who has recently returned to the party. It is becoming increasingly difficult for those who have always been loyal to the president, to continue to be so."
More about Dr. Gouws
Dr. Ina Gouws is an alumnus of the PU for CHE, now the North-West University. She obtained an MA (Public Management and Governance) degree at the Potchefstroom Campus of the University. In May 2003 she accepted a position as a lecturer at the Vaal Triangle Campus. She is currently working as a senior lecturer in Political Science and International Relations. She received her PhD in 2010. Her research focussed on Integrated Water Resource Management for some time, but the growth and potential of the Political Science Department, allowed her research focus to return to International Relations - which has always been her first interest. She has been quoted as an academic expert in local and national newspapers and is well-known for her radio commentary on issues relating to international politics.