South Africa: Opposition nixes report on president

AP News
Posted: Nov 12, 2014 10:52 AM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African opposition parties on Wednesday rejected a report absolving the country's president from financial wrongdoing in the upgrades of his personal home.

Opposition parties released their own report calling for President Jacob Zuma to be removed from office. They also demanded a criminal investigation and that Zuma pay back a portion of the more than $20 million in state funds used to improve his rural homestead in Nkandla in the Kwazulu-Natal province.

On Tuesday evening, a parliamentary committee released the findings of its investigation which cleared the president. The committee recommended that employees of the department overseeing the upgrades be investigated instead.

In a joint statement, seven opposition parties rejected the committee's findings.

"In our view, no outcome on the Nkandla scandal where the African National Congress is prosecutor, judge and jury for President Zuma has any validity," they said.

The opposition walked out of that committee last month, saying it had been "hijacked and manipulated by the African National Congress to protect Jacob Zuma from accountability."

The ruling African National Congress released a statement, denouncing what it called the opposition's "alternate" report, saying the opposition's refusal to participate in the official committee meant its findings had no basis.

The investigation began after South Africa's government watchdog released a report in March concluding that Zuma inappropriately benefited from state funding.

Zuma has denied any wrongdoing, saying government security officials controlled the project. According to the Public Protector's report, features including an amphitheater, a chicken run and a cattle enclosure within the president's homestead had nothing to with security.

Opposition parties laid criminal charges after the report was publicized. Police confirmed they were investigating the matter.