Nkandla: South Africa’s top court to rule on Zuma residence
President Zuma has been plagued by scandal throughout his career, including allegations of rape, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. His natural charisma and modest upbringing have been credited with how he has to date managed to maintain his lasting popularity, as well as retain power. Can he survive another corruption scandal?
Jacob Zuma was born into poverty in 1942, losing his father at a very young age and never receiving any formal schooling. He first joined the African National Congress party (ANC) at the age of 17 in 1959, quickly moving into their military wing in 1962.
A year later in 1963 he was arrested and imprisoned for 10 years on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela, having be convicted of “conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government.”
On his release he left South Africa, originally moving to Swaziland and then later on living and working in Mozambique and Zambia. Throughout this time, he continued to work his way through the ranks of the ANC, finally returning to South Africa in 1990 as an ANC leader.
Zuma became President of the ANC on the 18th December 2007 and since then has spent over $23m upgrading his rural residence in Nkandla. It is thought that the money was largely spent between the years 2010 and 2014 on what were recorded as essential “security upgrades”. Some of these alleged “security upgrades” include; a swimming pool, an amphitheater, a football pitch, helipads, a chicken run, an enclosure for cattle and a number of houses for relatives.
In 2014 a 400-page report was published in which the Public Protector and South African advocate Thuli Madonsela, declared that Mr. Zuma had “unduly benefited from the enormous capital investment in the non-security installations at his private residence”
Over the years, and right up to 2014, Mr. Zuma has repeatable claimed that the renovations were paid for with his family money, however on the 3rd February 2016, a week before a constitutional hearing on the matter, Zuma pledged to payback a percentage of the costs incurred for these “security upgrades”.
The exact amount is still to be agreed however he publically stated that he felt that the Finance Minister and auditor general should decide how much he should in fact repay.
Zuma’s offer to repay a sum of money is seen by many as an attempt to avoid the planned constitutional hearing, in fact the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have said that there should not only still be a constitutional hearing but there should also be a full corruption investigation.
Vote of no-confidence
Whilst the court’s ruling of the 738 corruption charges against him, including the issue of the $23m used to renovate his private residence are still pending, on the 1st March 2016 Zuma survived a vote of no-confidence brought against him by the opposition party.
South Africa’s Constitutional Court reserves its decision
There is still no confirmed date of when a final conclusion will be reached, the constitutional court has simply said that it will announce its impending decision once it has been made.