Zuma told to repay €450,000 for upgrades to his home
Decision by South Africa’s national treasury is latest setback for scandal-hit president
South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has managed to hold on to his post with backing from the ruling African National Congress. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP
South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma should pay 7.8 million rand (€458,000) for non-security upgrades to his private Nkandla home, the country’s national treasury said on Monday.
In a stinging rebuke that hit the scandal-plagued leader financially and politically, the top court in Africa’s most industrialised country in March ordered Mr Zuma to pay back some of the €14.5 million of state money spent upgrading his private home.
Record unemployment and a looming recession have exacerbated discontent with Mr Zuma’s leadership, ahead of local elections in August. Mr Zuma has managed to hold on to his post with backing from the ruling African National Congress, which has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
The court gave the treasury 60 days to work out a “reasonable cost”. Mr Zuma has said he would pay back some of the money used to refurbish the Nkandla residence, which is in KwaZulu-Natal province.
On Monday Mr Zuma’s office said it would comment on the treasury report after studying it.
In 2014, public protector Thuli Madonsela, whose office is a constitutionally mandated anti-corruption watchdog, identified a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitor centre as non-security items that Mr Zuma must pay for.
Estimates from Ms Madonsela’s report had pegged the bill at around 10 million rand.
The unanimous ruling of the 11-judge constitutional court also said Mr Zuma had failed to “uphold, defend and respect” the constitution by ignoring Ms Madonsela’s recommendations.
In April, Mr Zuma survived an impeachment vote in parliament after the court’s ruling thanks to backing from ANC lawmakers. In December he was widely criticised for changing his finance minister twice in a week, sending the rand plummeting.