Zuma should repay $510,000 spent on home upgrade, Treasury says

South African President Jacob Zuma should refund taxpayers for about 7.81 million rand ($510,000) spent on upgrading his private rural home, the National Treasury said.

The Constitutional Court  ruled March 31 that Zuma “failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution” when he refused to abide by graft ombudsman Thuli Madonsela’s directive to repay some of the 215.9 million rand spent on renovating his home at Nkandla, in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province. The court ordered the Treasury to determine the extent of the president’s liability for non-security-related features, including a swimming pool and cattle enclosure, within 60 work days.

“The reasonable percentage of the estimated costs of the five measures that the president would have to pay personally would be 87.94 percent,” the National Treasury said in the report filed with the court on Monday.

Zuma, 74, has 45 days to make payment once the proposal is approved by the Constitutional Court. While the president apologized for the frustration and confusion the scandal had caused, he said he never intentionally did anything illegal. The costs also relate to payments for structures including an amphitheater, visitors’ center and a chicken run.

Zuma, a former intelligence operative who’s ruled Africa’s most-industrialized economy since May 2009, has been implicated in a succession of other scandals. Prosecutors spent eight years probing allegations that he took 4.07 million rand in bribes from arms dealers and brought 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him. On June 24, the High Court denied the National Prosecuting Authority permission to appeal a finding that it erred when it decided to drop the case against him just weeks before he became president, opening the way for the charges to be reinstated.

 

– Bloomberg