South African president pays costs in home spending scandal

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2016 10:10 AM
South African president pays costs in home spending scandal

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African President Jacob Zuma has paid the state more than $500,000 after being instructed to do so in a scandal over upgrades to his private home, his office said Monday.

The country's ruling party lost control of some major metropolitan areas last month in its worst-ever election showing amid voter dissatisfaction over corruption allegations against the president.

The Constitutional Court had said Zuma should pay back an amount compiled by the national treasury, which described the sum of 7.8 million South African rand as a "reasonable percentage" of costs for improvements to Zuma's Nkandla home that were unrelated to security. Some of that money was spent on a visitors' center, a swimming pool and a chicken run.

Zuma raised the money through a home loan and paid it to the South African Reserve Bank, his office said.

The money is just over 3 percent of the total amount of state funds that were spent on the president's rural home.

The Democratic Alliance, South Africa's main opposition party, welcomed the news that Zuma had paid back some money.

However, the party said in a statement that Zuma should provide proof in parliament that he personally paid back the state, saying he "has a history of tapping into his circle of cronies for funds."

Zuma is scheduled to answer questions in parliament on Tuesday, an occasion likely to feature harsh criticism from opposition parties. During the spending scandal, some lawmakers from another opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, disrupted sessions with chants of "Pay back the money" and were forcibly removed by security guards.

The president has also been accused of allowing an Indian immigrant family of wealthy businessmen to select some Cabinet ministers, though Zuma has denied those allegations.


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