Bishop criticize South African president's lack of response on funding
Catholic News Service photo
South African President Jacob Zuma waves as he arrives at the First National Bank Stadium ahead of the national memorial service for late former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg Dec. 10. Presidents and prime ministers, celebrities a nd royals joined tens of thousands of South Africans to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid hero, who died Dec. 5 at age 95 at his Johannesburg home after a prolonged lung infection.
Catholic News Service
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South African President Jacob Zuma's decision not to respond promptly and comprehensively to a state watchdog agency report concluding that he inappropriately benefited from state funding undermines both the public protector's office and Parliament, said the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference.
"We respectfully remind the president that millions of our people continue to live in poverty and that many lack even rudimentary housing or shelter," the bishops said.
"This makes it all the more scandalous that nearly a quarter of a billion rands ($24 million) could be spent on the security and comfort of one citizen," they said.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report on the president's rural residence in Nkandla said Zuma should pay back some money for the alleged security upgrades to his home, including a swimming pool.
"It is unacceptable for the president to expect the country to wait for an explanation until the (police's elite) Special Investigating Unit has completed its investigation, which may only be in June," the bishops said in an April 3 statement signed by Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, conference president.
"The findings of the public protector's enquiry are perfectly clear -- there was excessive expenditure on the security upgrades, and millions of rands of taxpayers' money was spent on private items that should have been paid for by the president himself," the bishops said.
Noting that Zuma "has chosen to ignore his legal and ethical responsibility to Parliament and to the nation," the bishops said they "would expect a head of state, when faced with such a scandal, to take the earliest opportunity to provide a full and comprehensive explanation of his own involvement, and of what he plans to do to remedy the situation."