Johannesburg: South Africa‘s constitutional court on Tuesday approved the treasury’s recommendation that President Jacob Zuma should pay 7.8 million rand ($541,362) for non-security upgrades to his private Nkandla home.
The constitutional court in Africa‘s most industrialised country in March ordered Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home, and asked the Treasury to work out a ‘reasonable cost’.
In a letter dated July 26 to the lawyers involved in the case, the court said that it “signifies, with effect from the date of this letter, its approval of the amount of 7,814,155 rand.”
Zuma has 45 days, excluding weekends and public holidays, to pay back the money, according to the court‘s ruling in March.
A spokesman in Zuma’s office was not available to comment.
Zuma has previously said he would pay back some of the money used to refurbish the sprawling Nkandla residence, which is in KwaZulu-Natal province.
In 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, whose office is a constitutionally mandated anti-corruption watchdog, identified a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitor centre as non-security items that Zuma must pay for.
Estimates from Madonsela’s report had pegged the bill at around 10 million rand.
Discontent with Zuma’s leadership, fanned partly by the Nkandla saga, has risen ahead of local elections next week.
Zuma’s African National Congress has also been blamed for record unemployment and a looming recession and analysts say the party, which has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, is likely to face a stern test at the polls.