03/07/2014

Nkandla furore is a sign that democracy is alive and well in South Africa

Arena / By ZAM Reporter

The furore about South African President Jacob Zuma’s mansion in Nkandla, KwaZuluNatal, has far from died down. Now that the independent report by the Public Protector on the whole saga is out, twitterati and political bloggers are all over one another to announce –or dispute- the death of South Africa’s democracy. According to some, proof of said death is the fact that the ANC is using its majority to protect  Zuma.  Others, like columnist Steven Friedman, argue that the use of a parliamentary majority is completely democratic.

The Nkandla report by the Public Protector, though it did find that the Department of Public Works should not have provided non-essential features (like a swimming pool) for the house, it did not find Zuma guilty of a crime. There is therefore no recourse through the courts to make Zuma ‘pay back the money’ as the opposition party EFF and others are demanding. This makes it up to the public, the debate and the pressure to determine what happens next. This could include firing of people in government; it has most certainly already included a weakening of Zuma’s position as President. Public debate, public pressure, and the consequences thereof, are, of course, typically features of a vibrant democracy.