Om­budswoman crit­i­cizes Ja­cob Zuma ex­on­er­a­tion fol­low­ing spend­ing scan­dal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The South African public of­fi­cial who led a probe into al­le­ga­tions that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma spent mil­lions of public money up­grad­ing his home on Sun­day blasted a re­port clear­ing the em­bat­tled leader of any wrong­do­ing.

Zuma was last week ex­on­er­ated by the po­lice min­is­ter over the long-run­ning scan­dal and will not have to re­pay any of the US$24 mil­lion spent on im­prove­ments at his ru­ral homestead, which in­cluded a swim­ming pool, an am­phithe­ater and a cat­tle en­clo­sure.

Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela, the coun­try’s om­budswoman, had orig­i­nally ruled in March last year that Zuma and his fam­ily had “ben­e­fited un­duly” from the work on his home in Nkandla in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal prov­ince

She told South Africa’s City Press in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on Sun­day that Zuma should still be made to pay and lashed out at “short­com­ings” in the po­lice min­is­ter’s re­port.

She con­ceded the word­ing she had used in her own re­port was too soft.

“I should have said he ben­e­fited im­prop­erly and un­law­fully,” Madon­sela said. “The pres­i­dent must pay, I have al­ready said that.”

The amount spent on Zuma’s home would buy sev­eral luxury homes in the eco­nomic cap­i­tal Jo­han­nes­burg or on the scenic Cape coast.

The lav­ish spend­ing has an­gered many in a coun­try where poverty re­mains wide­spread 21 years af­ter the for­mal end of apartheid.

Po­lice Min­is­ter Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko, who Zuma him­self had tasked to de­ter­mine how much the pres­i­dent should pay back, said Thurs­day that the up­grades were all nec­es­sary for se­cu­rity rea­sons, and de­scribed the the pool as a “fire­pool” needed to fight any blaze at the homestead.

Madon­sela blasted Nh­leko’s re­port as full of “half-truths, in­ac­cu­ra­cies and dis­tor­tions,” say­ing he should have costed all non­se­cu­rity items and then agreed on what was “hu­manly fair and rea­son­able” to be paid by Zuma.

The main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Al­liance last week de­scribed the po­lice min­is­ter’s find­ings as “an in­sult to the South African peo­ple” and said it would con­sider legal ac­tion.

Arch­bishop emer­i­tus Des­mond Tutu, re­garded in­ter­na­tion­ally as a moral author­ity, also ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of “hu­mil­i­at­ing” South Africa by al­low­ing Zuma to get away with the spend­ing.

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