Former ANC youth league leader Julius Malema tells crowds of South African opposition supporters gathered at a rally in Johannesburg that “victory is certain”, after asking the country’s top court to rule on whether President Jacob Zuma broke the law by spending 250 million rand (then $23 million) on a state-funded security upgrade to his home.
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FEBRUARY 9, 2016) (REUTERS) – South African opposition parties on Tuesday (February 9) asked the country’s top court to rule on whether President Jacob Zuma broke the law by spending 250 million rand (then $23 million) on a state-funded security upgrade to his home.
The constitutional court will decide in the next few days if it will hear a case to decide whether a report from South Africa’s anti-graft authority, accusing Zuma of misusing state funds, was legally binding.
Crowds of supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party gathered to hear their leader, Julius Malema, speak. Malema previously served as president of the ruling African National Congress’ (ANC) youth league.
“All of them [the judges] have said the remedial actions of the public protector are binding. All of them have agreed that President Jacob Zuma must pay back the money,” Malema told the masses.
The 2014 report from the public protector said that Zuma had personally benefited from some of the refurbishments to his country home in Nkandla, which included a cattle enclosure, swimming pool and amphitheatre.
After months of denying any wrongdoing, Zuma said last week that he would pay back money spent on improvements that did not relate to security, and asked the auditor general and finance minister to decide an appropriate figure.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), the main opposition party, and the radical left-wing EFF do not believe Zuma’s concession goes far enough.
“The highest court of the land says the man [Jacob Zuma] has violated the constitution. You have no option but to remove the man. If they don’t remove Zuma we will go to parliament and demand that Zuma must be impeached,” Malema added.
They are hoping that a case in the constitutional court will put pressure on Zuma and the ANC ahead of municipal elections this year and help them win control of some cities, including the capital Pretoria.
Thousands of EFF members, led by Malema, marched on Tuesday to the constitutional court to protest against Zuma’s leadership. Many of them waved placards reading “Vote Julius Malema”, “ANC must fall” and “Pay back the money”.
One member said he was happy that Zuma was being tried.
“It’s a victory for poor people, it’s a victory for the constitution, and it’s also a victory for the public protector. For many years the president has been defying and undermining the call of the masses, so today the court has shown that we cannot have such a man with questionable integrity,” said Mampuru Mampuru, the EFF’s regional chairperson for Ekhuruleni.
Others were more bitter.
“Zuma took the nation’s money and ate it; money that was intended for the people. So we are here to demand that money back. We are saying pay back the money, Zuma,” said EFF member Martha Tlowe.
With a sharp economic slowdown causing widespread hardship, Zuma has faced mounting criticism of his leadership since he secured a second term in office in 2014.