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Sorry Mr President, apology not accepted

By Danai Nhando

When someone apologises the courteous thing to do is to respond and in most cases we feel obliged to accept the apology. After listening to the president’s “apology”, I had two choices, to be silent and deal with my concerns privately or to speak out and make my voice heard. I chose to speak out. “Dear Mr President, let it be known to all that I do not accept your apology.”

An apology is a regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure and Mr President that was not an apology. Not only was it not an apology but it is also just too little, too late. You boldly said: “I wish to emphasise that I never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the Constitution which is the supreme law of the Republic.”

Why did this matter even have to end up in the highest court in the land anyway, it was clear to us all from day one that the Nkandla improvements were not legal. I don’t accept your apology, because it implies that this is just one bad apple, rather than a symptom of widespread corruption, and it paints over enormous problems with useless sentiment.

If your apology is acceptable then every lawbreaker in the country will be able to also say, “I never knowingly or deliberately set out to commit this crime”. The law doesn’t work like that, every action especially one that involves illegality has to have a corresponding consequence. Mr President you said, “It was never my intention not to comply with the public protector’s remedial action or disrespect her office”. If that were true, then why have you for the past two years maintained that you would not pay back any of the money which was used towards the upgrades?

You even went as far as to say you did not ask for them. This lack of accountability has become a norm. Instead of acknowledging your failures and taking full responsibility you pinned it on your legal advisers and because of them you said you acted on the basis of a “different approach and different legal advice”.

I do not accept your apology because I deserve better, we deserve better, our children deserve better. Mr President we crave great leadership. We crave accountability. We crave an active democracy that produces results. Accepting your apology would sanction the backsliding of democracy and it would be an endorsement of the constant plundering of the country in the face of increased poverty and I simply cannot accept that.

Danai Nhando is a human rights lawyer turned equitable education advocate. She is passionate about democratising access to quality education in Africa through open educational solutions. Danai believes that equitable learning advancement does not always require large amounts of resources and she offers professional advisory services to academic institutions on how to set up low-cost, high-impact eLearning initiatives.


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  1. Heidi Heidi 4 April 2016

    This apology reminds strongly of the Gupta apology after the Waterkloof incident. Instead of apologizing to the nation whose sanctity they have violated, they apologized to their guests for the embarrassing inconvenience. There is no doubt that the Guptas , mr Zuma and the current ANC hold South Africans in contempt and see us just as dumb lackeys.
    Pretty soon the ANC will not be able to criticize apartheids’s immorality, because their own morality is on par, if not worse.
    Do you know that there are people in this country sleeping hungry? Do you know there are children drowning in abysmal school toilets? Do you know there are incomplete hospitals for the poor. Do you know there are students who have nothing to eat? While you wreck the security forces for your own purpose, do you know how many young girls are raped and killed? Do you know that while you stay in huge splendor and give away our money to awful people, your girls, our girls, do not even have sanitation pads? As president, you are responsible. Remember as you give your glib explanations that God will judge you.

  2. Shower-in-my-firepool Shower-in-my-firepool 4 April 2016

    Zuma actually insinuated that the judgement was wrong and that he is merely a victim. This person’s response and behaviour is typical of African dictators, the Big Men of Africa, who want to rule forever and a day. He makes me ill.

  3. Shower-in-my-firepool Shower-in-my-firepool 4 April 2016

    The President knows as much about apologies as he knows about scruples.

  4. divvie divvie 4 April 2016

    He maybe just did not know…like he just does not know the difference between right and wrong…..

  5. Pieter Barendse Botha Pieter Barendse Botha 5 April 2016

    He He HEEEEEEE !! Apology with ARROGANT UNDERTONE!! NO thanyou Sir !!!

  6. Maria Maria 6 April 2016

    Thank you for this beautiful letter, Danai Nhando. I especially love your statement about “our children deserve better” , even if I myself don’t have any children and is just occasionally a teacher.

  7. Viewing Life From A Distance Viewing Life From A Distance 8 April 2016

    And today Mr Zuma said: “Africans problems should be solved the African way; as the judiciary is too focused on cold, hard facts and that makes things too complicated.” Really? One would expect a President to understand and respect the law of his own country and his office.

  8. Rory Short Rory Short 11 April 2016

    I agree with you. Danai, 100%.

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