Zuma should show the way

THE announcement by President Jacob Zuma that he will declare his interests tomorrow after consulting his legal team is unfortunate.

THE announcement by President Jacob Zuma that he will declare his interests tomorrow after consulting his legal team is unfortunate.

Instead of being guided by a commitment to transparency and clean government, Zuma's office decided to play the legal game and argued that the law is not clear about whether he should declare his interests.

Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya says Zuma has not declared because "he had been waiting for clarification from his legal team, as there had been a difference of opinion in his office on whether he had to declare his interests or not".

The DA, on the other hand, believes Zuma has violated Section 5 of the Executive Ethics Code. It now wants the Public Protector to investigate.

Zuma could have saved himself from this anxiety by simply declaring his interests.

By doing so he would have emulated world leaders like US President Barack Obama, who said when he made his tax returns information public "I am doing so to sacrifice privacy for the sake of transparency".

There is now a cloud of suspicion as to why Zuma should resort to legal means to justify his non-declaration.

Like leaders such as Obama, Zuma should assure the public that he believes in an open, transparent government that is accountable to the people.

And that he also believes openness and accountability are not platitudes - they are essential elements of our democracy.

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