Zuma Faces Court Over $13 Million Home Revamp

  • Home improvement included amphitheater and swimming pool
  • Zuma agreed to repay some of the money used in home upgrade

South African President Jacob Zuma.

Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

South Africa’s main opposition parties get their chance in the country’s highest court on Tuesday to force President Jacob Zuma to repay some of the state funds that were spent on upgrading his private home.

The Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters rebuffed a proposal from Zuma for the Auditor-General to decide what he should pay. That would have avoided the hearing in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, just two days before he delivers his annual state-of-the-nation speech.

The parties are demanding that Zuma comply with a finding by the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, the nation’s graft ombudsman, that he should repay some of the 215.9 million rand ($13.3 million) of state funds spent on an amphitheater, cattle and chicken enclosures and a swimming pool at his home in Nkandla in eastern KwaZulu-Natal province. The EFF has said that he must also admit he violated his oath of office by failing to protect state assets, according to papers the party submitted to the court.

Both parties are trying to step up pressure on Zuma and his African National Congress as they bid to challenge the ruling party in some of South Africa’s main cities in local elections scheduled between May and August.

Zuma has said he never requested the upgrade and the police minister found that the renovations were security-related.

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