By Staff Reporter
The South African president, Jacob Zuma, “benefitted unduly” from a $23m (£14m) state-funded security upgrade to his private home that included a swimming pool, cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, his country’s anti-corruption watchdog has said.
In a damning report released six weeks before an election, the public protector accuses Zuma of conduct “inconsistent with his office” and said he should repay a reasonable part of the cost of the unnecessary renovations.
“The president tacitly accepted the implementation of all measures at his residence and has unduly benefitted from the enormous capital investment in the non-security installations at his private residence,” the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, says in her reportMadonsela, a fearless advocate who has become one of the biggest thorns in the ANC’s side, condemned the leak in November of her provisional report into Zuma’s homestead at Nkandla in rural KwaZulu-Natal province and denied it came from her office.
Several senior party officials have appeared in the media questioning the integrity and independence of Madonsela, whose office is enshrined in South Africa‘s post-apartheid constitution.
The government had gone to court to try to prevent Madonsela releasing her findings on the grounds that they might jeopardise Zuma’s security. The challenge was dropped after Madonsela made clear there was no threat.
The paper also says Madonsela accused Zuma of misleading parliament by telling it in 2011 that all the buildings in the sprawling compound had been built “by ourselves as family, and not by the government”.
Zuma, a polygamous Zulu traditionalist, has been beset by scandal throughout his political career. He only became president after corruption charges against him were dropped on a technicality days before the polls, and while in office fathered a child with the daughter of a close friend.
The extent of his unpopularity in urban areas was highlighted by the boos that greeted him at a memorial to Nelson Mandela at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium in December, although he still enjoys huge support in the countryside