Zuma finds out that better late than never, but never late is better

President Jacob Zuma has offered to pay back some portion of the whopping R246 million spent on security upgrades on his personal home in Nkandla. Maybe Baba has been having nightmares of a marauding army of red berets chanting “#PayBackTheMoney” in his bedroom. Or, more likely, he knows a Constitutional Court case is going to drag him worse than Meek Mill in his beef with Drake. But it’s also not a coincidence that JZ is ready to make an EFT - the State of the Nation Address (SONA) happens next week. And then there’s local elections coming up, and the ANC is under pressure to show that they are in touch with the people. QINISO MBILI took to the streets of Durban to find out how the news of Zuma’s offer to pay back the money has been received. 

Lo and behold, some people don’t even think JZ is serious:

Londiwe VellemLondiwe Vellem, 20, video technology student
I do not think this is genuine. All this time he did not want to pay back the money, why does he want to pay it back now? This is just because of the SONA and the elections. I know that when all this is gone, he will not pay back the money. He wants the SONA and elections to come past and then he won’t pay back the money after the ANC has won elections.

And yet, others point out that Zuma can’t exactly just rescind his offer to pay back the money now. It’s in the legal papers and stuff.

nokukhanya luthuliNokukhanya Luthuli, 18, journalism student
I think he is being real. Why would he promise the whole country a lie? By promising us that he will pay, he is now committing his own self to a whole lot of accountability. All those people who do not want to believe him are just haters. He will pay back the money and they will come up with another excuse to discredit him. I know that a lot of people are going to get bored after the president pays back the money. Zuma’s critics always focus on Nkandla. When that is solved, they will have nothing against Zuma.

It’s worth asking however if we’ve distilled the full complexities of all our problems into just one man and his home in Nkandla. But surely, if this much money can be misdirected than there’s the potential for more money to go missing?

samuel burnettSamuel Burnett, 18, student
We are not stupid, we know that this is just so they can sit a successful SONA. They know what happened last year, so they do not want a repeat of that especially since elections are coming soon. Zuma has some trustworthy voters but he realises now that he is slowly becoming unappealing to the youth, so this promise is just to dampen that down. I don’t understand how he got away with it from the beginning. Nhlanhla Nene relieved him of all accountability and now Zuma comes out to admit guilt, what does this say about the whole finance ministry? This is just because of the Constitutional Court appearance.

ntando nxumaloNtando Nxumalo, 29, receptionist

Of course he will pay back the money, but he won’t pay back all of it. Just like he said that he will pay what is recommended by the finance minister; he is friends with the ministry so he will only pay what he wants. Some time ago he didn’t have the money to pay, but now he has it. How will we know that he won’t use the state money to pay back Nkandla? He will pay only a small portion of it.

But has anyone worked out how much money we’d all receive if the R246 million was actually distributed to all South Africans? Zuma’s got no feeling for the poor when he abuses state resources.

jade russellJade Russell, 18, graphic designer
I think the Nkandla upgrades were unfair from the beginning. No one should have that much access to that much money. If that money was distributed, each and every South African would have got about R1,000 and God knows that some South Africans really need that kind of money. He does not value lives of the poor; he was supposed to be put out of power from the beginning. I have learnt my lesson as a voter, I will definitely be voting and I know what to vote.

So yes, it’s not Julius and the EFF that are side-eyeing Zuma.

(And in case you were wondering, yes, the headline is indeed a Drake reference.)


Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity
Featured image by Nathi Ngubane