The Constitutional Court will on Monday pass judgement on the appeal against an Electoral Court judgment that an sms sent by the DA to voters, stating that President Jacob Zuma stole public money to build his Nkandla home, was based on false information.
The DA argued that, especially during election-time, the track record of those in power should be open to robust scrutiny and the views and policies of all parties must be subjected to interrogation.
The African National Congress maintained its contention that the sms was a factual statement, false, and that the DA had no right to publish falsehoods about Zuma.
On April 4, Acting Judge Mike Hellens dismissed the ANC’s application to stop the distribution of the sms, saying it was fair comment.
However, the Electoral Court on May 6 declared the sms amounted to a publication of false information, in contravention of the Electoral Commission Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct.
In the sms, sent to over 1.5 million voters in Gauteng, the DA said: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home.” The sms followed findings by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from some of the money spent in security upgrades to his KwaZulu-Natal residence.
The court held the sms should state: “The DA retracts the sms dispatched to you which falsely stated that President Zuma stole R246m to build his home. The sms violated the code and the act.”