South Africa’s top court to rule on Zuma home revamp


South Africa’s Constitutional Court will rule on Thursday on whether President Jacob Zuma should pay back some of the 240 million rand (10.9 million pounds) spent by the state on renovating his private home, domestic media reported.

Two opposition parties brought the case to try to force Zuma to comply with a 2014 finding by the Public Protector, an anti-corruption watchdog, that he was liable for non-security improvements to his sprawling rural residence that included a cattle enclosure, swimming pool and amphitheatre.

Following months of political pressure, he agreed in February to foot part of the bill for the building work at the compound, in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province.

Should the court find Zuma violated the constitution, the opposition would be likely to push for his impeachment in parliament although – as with previous votes – the ruling ANC’s majority would almost certainly protect him.

The Nkandla scandal is one of many controversies swirling round Zuma.

In December, he fired respected finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with an unknown backbencher, triggering a dramatic sell-off in the rand.

Since then, allegations have surfaced suggesting that the Guptas, a wealthy family of Indian-born businessmen with close ties to Zuma, may have been involved in the decision.

Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas revealed this month that the Guptas offered him the top job in the Treasury shortly before Nene was axed. Jonas said he turned down the offer.