The South African Constitutional Court has ruled that Jacob Zuma will pay back the government for the money he spent on home renovations. On Friday, April 1, 2016, Zuma publicly apologized for his actions. The National Treasury was given 60 days to determine how much Zuma would have to pay.
Zuma used large sums of public money to develop his personal property. Several years ago, Zuma decided to make renovations around his house. The leader put together a plan of what was needed for his property and started to build; paying for it all out of the government’s pocket.
This continued for several years. The upgrades to his home were rather extensive. CNN reported that Zuma added a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, and chicken run. He also built a visitors center and amphitheater. Estimates of how much the leader spent to improve his abode, range from $15 to $20 million. CNN has reported that Zuma will be ordered to repay the money he spent on any renovations that were not related to increasing the security of his compound.
South Africa has, what is called, a Public Protector. This is a political body that oversees the government, watching for any sign of corruption. In 2014, the Public Protector looked into the renovation of Zuma’s rural home, located in the KwaZulu-Natal province, and reported these renovations appeared suspicious. According to the BBC, the anti-corruption agency found that Zuma spent $23 million of public money on renovations. This investigation was known as the Madonsela’s report.
In Zuma’s defense, he claimed these upgrades were part of his increase in security. NPR stated Zuma ordered a parallel investigation to exonerate him on the basis that his swimming pool was a fire-fighting reservoir.
This defense failed and created a major scandal for the president. Two years after the Madonsela’s report was released, South African President Zuma will have to pay back the money he wrongfully spent. The court is still deliberating over how much money he will need to pay.
The court’s ruling came on March, 31. The court ruled, “The constitution, rule of law and accountability is the sharp and mighty sword ready to chop off the ugly head of impunity.” The court also exposed the National Assembly, whose parallel investigation exonerated the president. In their decision, the court stated the investigation was invalid because it was “unlawful.”
Zuma has been openly apologetic about the scandal. In a speech, the president said, he apologized on behalf of himself and the government for the controversy. He went on stating, “I ask all parties to respect the judgment and abide by it. Let us use the judgment to build and further strengthen our democracy.”
The political opposition has promised to impeach Zuma in the National Assembly. The African National Congress holds the majority in the chamber but the Democratic Alliance is promising to oust the president. Mmusi Maimane, the Democratic Alliance leader, has been adamant about holding impeachment proceedings.
The president has tried to reassure the public that this was a mistake. He said that he was acting “in good faith,” and never meant to violate the constitution.
Other forces might be working against the president, of which he is unaware. The Telegraph reported that the ANC may deem the leader, as too much of a liability and decide to remove him from office.
After years of investigation and lengthy court proceeds, the case has finally been decided. Jacob Zuma will pay back the money he used to develop his property. The amount of money he will be ordered to pay has yet to be determined.
By Harrison Baker
Edited by Jeanette Smith
BBC News: South Africa’s Jacob Zuma ‘sorry’ over Nkandla scandal
CNN: South African President Jacob Zuma says he’ll abide by ruling he broke law
NPR: South African President Jacob Zuma Must Pay Up, Top Court Says
The Telegraph: Jacob Zuma apologizes for breaking South Africa’s constitution
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