President Jacob Zuma has been served with court papers following his failure to answer a Parliamentary question put to him by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane.
This is a sequel to President Jacob Zuma’s refusal to answer question posed by Maimane in the National Assembly to determine how much public money has been spent, avoiding the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him.
DA Federal Council Chairperson James Selfe confirmed in a statement on Sunday his party has filed papers in the Western Cape High Court to compel President Zuma to confirm in writing to the National Assembly, the total amount spent on all legal costs in respect of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him, within five days.
The DA argued in court papers the conduct of the President to refuse answer a question was unlawful and unconstitutional.
“The conduct of the President was exacerbated and perpetuated by the Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tshenoli, who was presiding at the time. Instead of directing the President to answer the question and disclose how much money had been spent, Tshenoli regarded the matter as having been dealt and directed that the proceedings continue,” read the affidavit.
Selfe said for more than eight years, taxpayers’ money has been used to pay for the President’s legal costs in the so-called “Spy-Tapes” case.
“Given that the taxpayer has most likely footed the bill for Zuma’s legal costs, the full amount spent should be revealed in the public interest. The question posed was specific and straightforward yet the President steadfastly refused to answer and the Deputy Speaker refused to require him to answer it,” said Selfe.
Selfe explained that sections 42 (3) and 55 of the Constitution sets out that the National Assembly has a responsibility to hold the Executive to account, and that it must provide mechanisms to ensure accountability, adding Parliamentary questions are one such mechanism.
The National Assembly Rules set out how often the President should appear to answer questions and the Executive Ethics code makes it clear, in its general standards, that members of the executive must adhere to certain standards and that no member may mislead those who they are accountable to.
Selfe said both the President and the Deputy Speaker failed in their responsibility to uphold the Constitution and to account properly.
“The DA have therefore asked the court to direct the President to confirm, in writing to the National Assembly, the total amount spent on all legal costs in respect of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him, within five days,” said Selfe.