News / Africa

    Zuma's Lawyers Conciliatory in Homestead Corruption Case

    Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters protest outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.
    Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters protest outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.
    Thuso Khumalo

    Lawyers for South African President Jacob Zuma have admitted the president erred by not paying back at least some of the $15 million in government money used to pay for upgrades at his private home. The admission came in front of South Africa's Constitutional Court, which is considering whether the president disobeyed the country's public protector when he refused to pay.

    Last year, President Jacob Zuma angered opponents when he defied an order to pay back $15 million used for upgrades at his home in KwaZulu-Natal province.  The upgrades included a swimming pool, an ampitheater and a chicken run.

    Lawyers for two opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, told the court Tuesday by refusing to pay Zuma undermined the office of the public protector.

    Zuma’s legal team agreed, saying the president is now ready to pay at least part of the money if the court rules he must.

    Both teams also agreed the orders of the public protector are binding and have to be carried out, except in cases where they are under court review.  

    The sides are now waiting for the court's ruling in the case.

    FILE - This photoshows the private compound homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, South Africa.
    FILE - This photoshows the private compound homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, South Africa.

    Lawyer William Trengove, who represented the Economic Freedom Fighters, is confident judges will rule in their favor.

    "Every single matter that we wanted a ruling on has been now traversed in court and we got a distinct impression and setting from the line of questioning of the justices that we are going to get at least, if not all the orders we want, then at least the most important ones," said Trengove.

    Democratic Alliance spokesperson Refiloe Ntsekhe welcomed Zuma's admission he disregarded the public protector.

    "We think Mr. Zuma should actually just go to prison.  He still has the 700 charges, which were basically put under the carpet.  He needs to step down and then face the music with those 700 charges," said Ntsekhe.

    There was no public reaction from the president, who was not in court Tuesday.

    Outside the court, thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated against the president.

    Legal experts say a ruling forcing Zuma to pay back the money would not only be a victory for the opposition, but would also strengthen the position of those who want him impeached.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Alice from: Canada
    February 10, 2016 11:28 AM
    Jacob Zuma looks more and more like all the other aging former Marxist-Leninists that run governments: a greedy self absorb autocrat who believes the world owes him. The 15 million dollars he admits to have stolen from the people of South Africa is only the tip of the iceberg. No doubt millions of dollars more have been taken by Zuma out of the mouths of impoverished and hungry South Africans. When will the people of South Africa get rid of this obscene clown of a president?
    In Response

    by: anonymous
    February 12, 2016 4:53 AM
    Firstly, maladministration is not confined to Africa alone, banking scandals in the USA and Europe have been well cited not to mention the recent tax evasion back payment in Britain with no action against those involved. Extensive television and Press coverage in SA, however, becomes frenzied on one individual, whilst Trade Unionist leaders, whose members involved in labour strikes and violent unrest, have cost the country and mining economy and other sectors, Billions, are unaccountable. Press coverage of such actions are limited due to risk of life. Lastly in this instance, SONA an auspicious occasion, was marred by some members of Parliament, who saw fit to detract from the evening, adding to the Press fervour - a sad moment which shall be remembered for a long time to come.

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