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Zuma Must Be Pissed – Why Friday’s ConCourt Judgement Is A ‘Political Accountability’ Game Changer

Story from: 2oceansvibe.com

Another legal battering for Jacob Zuma, but is it the moment he actually starts to feel the pinch?

Friday’s ConCourt ruling on Sassa and the social grants mess is being hailed by many as a landmark, in that it “opened a new avenue for political accountability”.

Our dear president has already been on the receiving end of a stern telling off from the ConCourt, what with the whole Nkandla mess, but this time around both Zuma and the likes of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini will be worried about the extent of the Court’s ruling.

More here from the Daily Maverick:

The Gupta-funded campaigners against “white minority capital” are yet to applaud the Constitutional Court for that rather potent sentence in the judgment. But they, like Zuma and Dlamini, have been left flummoxed by the judgment.

In interviews with three Sunday newspapers over the weekend, Dlamini appears to be thrown by the court’s order that she explain by March 31 why she should not pay the legal costs for the Constitutional Court case “from her own pocket”. The Sunday Times estimated that the costs could be up to R5 million.

“What shocked me a little bit in the judgment is Bathabile paying from her personal pocket. I’ve never heard of that before,” Dlamini told The Sunday Independent – referring to herself in the third person for some bizarre reason.

Much like ol’ Hlaudi Motsoeneng, when those under fire start referring to themselves in the third person you know they’re feeling the heat.

Anyway, back to why this ruling is a game changer:

Indeed, political office bearers have never before been expected to pay legal costs themselves, which is why most cases that government loses – they lose a lot – are appealed to the highest point in the court system. In the Sassa case, the Constitutional Court appears to be setting a precedent, both in terms of political accountability and financial penalties.

The judges, like the rest of South Africa, have probably seen that political accountability has become a joke…

The judgment makes no bones about who is responsible.

“The Minister bears the primary responsibility to ensure that Sassa fulfils its functions. She appoints its CEO. There is little the CEO can do without her direction. Attempts to obtain evidence of what steps she took after AllPay 2 [the 2014 Constitutional Court judgment in the original Sassa case] to ensure that beneficiaries would continue to be well catered for drew a blank.”

“The office-holder ultimately responsible for the crisis and the events that led to it is the person who holds executive political office. It is the Minister who is required in terms of the Constitution to account to Parliament. That is the Minister, and the Minister alone.”

In deciding that Dlamini should be held personally responsible, the Court outlined a clear plan of action to watch over the fool and ensure she actually makes a concerted effort:

But the court went beyond just dealing with the issue of the contract. It took the extraordinary step of ordering Dlamini and Sassa to file affidavits every three months “setting out how they plan to ensure the payment of social grants after the expiry of the 12-month period, what steps they have taken in that regard, what further steps they will take, and when they will take each future step, so as to ensure that the payment of all social grants is made when they fall due after the expiry of the 12-month period”…

For a political office bearer, this is the equivalent of being placed in the dunce class. Dlamini can obviously not be trusted to do her job. Her boss can obviously not be trusted to ensure that she does it either. And Parliament cannot be trusted to hold them both accountable.

These harsh words even forced JZ into action, when he did an about-turn on how to handle the crisis going forward.

Remember his funny democracy statements in the National Assembly from last week (HERE)? Not a laughing matter any longer:

In a statement issued by the Presidency on Saturday in reaction to the judgment, Zuma made another spectacular volte-face. As opposed to his cavalier attitude on Thursday, when he claimed nothing was wrong and no action was needed on his part, the president suddenly decided to “lead and chair” an inter-ministerial committee on comprehensive social security, which will “ensure that the order of the court is implemented efficiently and diligently, in its entirety”…

Zuma’s intervention is to save face and take back control as he no doubt knows that the judgment was a backhanded slap against him and his executive. But there is no way of undoing the fact that his minister and political ally is under the whip of the Constitutional Court for the next year. Neither can he rescue her from having to pay the costs of the case herself if the court decides that she should. Ironically, the only way Zuma can save Dlamini from the supervision is to remove her from the post. Moving her to another portfolio would, however, not rescue her from the financial penalty.

If Dlamini is made to pay the costs, the Constitutional Court will set a new precedent that will make political office bearers a lot more mindful of their actions. Our democracy might not be so “funny” for the president and his cohorts if accountability hits them where it hurts most.

Putting the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk through failure to deliver the grants on time obviously didn’t make anyone squirm, but threaten financial penalties and people start to jump through hoops.

Funny, that.


This post is from 2oceansvibe.com. Click here to read the full text

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