South Africa’s Zuma repays state money in home renovation scandal

South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma
South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has taken out a home loan to repay state money spent on non-security upgrades to his private residence, his office said on Monday.

It followed a scandal over lavish improvements on the property, with a swimming pool and amphitheatre built.

In a stinging rebuke that hit Mr. Zuma financially and politically, the Constitutional Court ordered him in March to return some of the $16 million.

He spent the money on enhancing his residence at Nkandla in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

The president’s office said Mr. Zuma had taken out a home loan on standard terms from private black-owned VBS Mutual Bank to repay 7.8 million rand ($538,000).

The sum was determined by the Treasury in June as the “reasonable cost” he should bear.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the payment had been received.

In 2014, a national anti-corruption watchdog identified a cattle enclosure, chicken run and visitor centre as non-security items that Zuma must pay for as well as the theatre and pool.

Mr. Zuma denied he had acted dishonestly over the upgrade.

In April, he survived an impeachment vote in parliament after the court’s ruling over the Nkandla costs, but the long-running scandal has damaged him.

In August, the ruling African National Congress suffered its worst-ever losses in municipal elections.

(Reuters/NAN)

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