Zuma home upgrade scandal: South Africa President vows to repay $16M in state funds spent on renovations

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma

South African president Jacob Zuma has promised to abide by a court ruling that he must repay government money spent on his private home.

“I respect the judgment and will abide by it,” Mr Zuma said.

In an address to the nation yesterday, president Zuma said he respected “the finding that failure to comply with the remedial action taken against me by the public protector is inconsistent with the constitution”.

He added that he had “never knowingly and deliberately set out to violate the constitution” and apologised for the “frustration and confusion” created by the scandal.

Meanwhile, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has denied claims made by EFF leader Julius Malema that deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa asked president Jacob Zuma to resign, and that he had refused.

Yesterday, Malema tweeted that the ANC would be convening a special NEC meeting next Saturday.

He also tweeted: “We are reliably told that the so called @MyANC officials asked Zuma to resign and he refused. Ramaphosa was the one leading the charge . . .”

Mantashe told News24 that this was not true.

“You know politicians are amenable to people who follow rumours. The NEC can’t have an NEC meeting that Malema knows about and I don’t know about.

“The president cannot be asked to resign without me knowing about it. If you are amenable to rumours, they will use you,” said Mantashe.

According to a Sowetan report, Zuma dared the NEC to recall him if they wished to do so during the three-day NEC meeting in Irene, Gauteng, but the ANC denied this.

The ANC has confirmed that its top six officials met on Thursday night to discuss the judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court earlier in the day.

“They met yesterday and they will again today,” national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said yesterday. Kodwa said once the meetings had concluded, the public would be informed of the outcome.

According to broadcaster eNCA, the officials were holding their meeting at President Zuma’s private residence in Pretoria.

Chief Justice Mogoeng said president Zuma and the National Assembly had acted incorrectly when they decided to set aside Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report which recommended that president Zuma pay back the funds.

“The failure by the president to comply with remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector . . . is inconsistent with the Constitution . . . and is invalid,” Mogoeng said.

Madonsela had found that, while the upgrades which were done at Zuma’s home were meant to exclusively be security upgrades, millions more were spent on features such as an amphitheatre, a visitor’s centre, a cattle kraal, chicken kraal and swimming pool. — News24/BBC.