President Jacob Zuma apologised to the nation on Friday after the Constitutional Court found that his failure to comply with the public protector’s remedial action in her report on spending on his Nkandla was a breach of the Constitution.
“The judgment has helped me and my colleagues to reflect deeply on the entire matter,” Zuma said.
“With hindsight, there are many matters that could have been handled differently and which should never have been allowed to drag on this long, which we deeply regret.
“The matter has caused a lot of frustration and confusion for which I apologise on my behalf and on behalf of government.”
Zuma said the judgment should help government to further build and strengthen our democracy.
“The judgment has been very helpful. There are lessons to be learned for those in government that augurs well for future governance,” he added.
On Thursday the Constitutional Court ruled that the president should adhere to the remedial actions of the public protector and pay back taxpayers’ funds which were used for non-security upgrades worth millions at his Nkandla home.
It found that Zuma’s failure to comply with Thuli Madonsela’s report was inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid.
Madonsela found in her report Secure in Comfort, released in March 2014, that Zuma had unduly benefited from some of the upgrades. She recommended that he repay a reasonable portion of the R246m spent on the upgrades and that the ministers involved in the project be reprimanded.
The court further ruled that the National Assembly had violated the Constitution by ignoring the public protector’s report.
Since the ruling, opposition parties have called for Zuma to step down.