LIES, DECEIT AND LEGAL IRONY:
ANC'S 'FIRE POOL' SAGA THREATENS DEMOCRACY

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation on 24/01/2024

In recent revelations, ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula candidly admitted to the party’s deliberate deception of Parliament regarding the controversial “fire pool” at former President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. 

This admission underscores a blatant abuse of power within the political echelons, as the ANC justified spending public money on the “fire pool” as a security measure, contradicting the Public Protector’s findings, who explicitly referred to it as a swimming pool in her report. The Constitutional Court judgement that ordered former President Zuma to pay back the money mentions the swimming pool specifically. Mbabula’s revelation echoes a broader pattern of dishonesty within the highest levels of government and prompts a critical examination from various perspectives.

From a constitutional perspective, the ruling party’s admission casts a dark shadow over the principles of accountability and transparency enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution. 

A parliamentary committee was formed to look into the upgrades to Nkandla following then Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela’s, Nkandla Report. Lying to Parliament is a criminal offence under the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2004. To quote the High Court in the S v. Yengeni case, “If Parliament is misled, or if individual members thereof are misled, whether expressly or by the withholding of information that must be disclosed, it stands to reason that they have been defrauded if the intention to mislead was present in the mind of the perpetrator.” This emphasises the gravity of the ANC’s deception in order to protect the President when Parliament started asking questions. Parliament, after all, is tasked with holding the executive branch of government to account through the use of the Constitution.

The admission that the executive chose party before country and lied to Parliament becomes more perplexing when considered against Tony Yengeni’s past conviction for defrauding Parliament, which highlights the legal consequences for those who attempt to mislead the legislative body.

The constitutional implications of the ANC’s actions extend beyond legal consequences. They strike at the heart of South Africa’s democracy – challenging the separation of powers between the different branches of government and Parliament’s ability to hold the executive to account. The ANC’s admission undermines the public’s trust in the democratic process and raises questions about the effectiveness of democratic institutions in ensuring transparency and accountability.

In conclusion, the ANC’s admission to misleading Parliament about the Nkandla “fire pool” not only raises constitutional and legal red flags, but also poses a profound challenge to South Africa’s democratic foundations. To this end, the Foundation calls for those who misled Parliament to face the full legal consequences of their reprehensible actions.