South Africa govt takes watchdog to court over Zuma report


South African cabinet ministers said on Thursday they would take the country’s top anti-graft watchdog to court over a report that heavily criticised a $23 million state-funded security upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s private home.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in a March report that Zuma should pay back some of the money spent on upgrades to his rural Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal province that included a chicken run and swimming pool.

Madonsela’s 444-page summary of her two-year probe into the renovations painted a picture of systemic official incompetence and flouted tender procedures that went unquestioned by Zuma at the time.

The cabinet’s “security cluster”, which includes the interior and police ministers, said in a statement it was demanding a judicial review of the report, parts of which were characterized as “irrational, contradictory and are informed by material errors of law”.

Despite a public and media outcry over the upgrades, Zuma is set to be sworn in for a second term in office this weekend after his African National Congress won 62 percent of the vote in a May 7 general election.

The softly spoken Madonsela has become a household name in South Africa for her efforts to fight graft in Africa’s most advanced economy and was named as Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world last year.