Jacob Zuma State Funds Case In Court: Scandal Could Lead To Impeachment
Jacob Zuma used state funds to renovate his mansions and now the people of South Africa want him to pay them back. President Zuma has been dragged to court after it was discovered that he used more than $15 million of state funds to add a swimming pool and amphitheater to his home under the false claim that the additions were for “security reasons.”
Jacob Zuma misused state funds for renovations on two of his private residences, prompting the leaders of the opposing political parties to sue him. Earlier today, lawyers for Zuma and representatives from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) appeared in front of 11 judges in South Africa‘s highest court, which will decide the president’s fate.
The DA and the EFF brought two separate cases for misuse of state funds. According to documents filed with the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, the president was given about $4 million of taxpayers’ money to upgrade his homes for security reasons after he was elected in 2009. Instead, Mr. Zuma spent between $13.4 million and $20 million to renovate his home in Nkandla in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province. The leader, who was supposed to focus on making sure the house was better secured, added an amphitheater, cattle and chicken enclosures and a swimming pool – yes, nothing says security like an infinity pool.
Before the hearing, the Public Protector had asked Zuma to pay “a reasonable percentage of the cost” for upgrades not related to security, and he accepted, but later changed his mind. Zuma said that he was not repaying the government because the findings were recommendations and not legal court orders. Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF, told reporters after the hearing:
“The president violated the constitution and there is no debate about that. Once this court makes an announcement that Zuma has violated the constitution, that’s the end of it. There’s no debate about it. If the ANC doesn’t want to remove him, we’ll go to impeach him in parliament.”
The lawyer for the DA, Anton Katz, told the court:
“There’s been an abuse of public resources at an extraordinary scale by one person in a country where people can’t afford housing, health care and basic necessities. It’s a breakdown of the rule of law. There’s a rule of man and a rule of law and this case is a clear example of the rule of man.”
Jeremy Gauntlett, an attorney for Zuma, claimed that he has accepted to repay some of the money and added that his client was cleared of wrongdoing by the police, which agreed that the upgrades were made for security. Gauntlett asked the court not to issue any ruling because he believes that the opposition parties could exploit it to begin impeachment proceedings.
During the court hearing, thousands of protesters gathered outside of the chamber and chanted “pay back the money.” The court adjourned to consider its ruling, which might come in the upcoming days.