1 Apr 2014

Zuma unwilling to pay for home renovations

8:03 am on 1 April 2014

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa does not think he should contribute towards a lavish state-funded renovation of his private home, because he did not ask for the work to be done.

The ombudsman said on 19 March that the president should repay some of the $US23 million of public money used on his residence in Nkandla.

The BBC reports the main opposition party has laid corruption charges against him.

Correspondents say the issue is likely to cost the ANC votes in the general elections on 7 May.

In his first comments since the release of the ombudsman's report, Mr Zuma said he had done nothing wrong, insisting instead that it had been the work of government officials.

"They did this without telling me - why should I pay for something I did not ask for," he was shown saying in isiXhosa on ANN7 TV in Cape Town.

Ombudsman Thuli Madonsela found that Mr Zuma had "unduly benefitted" from the renovations.

She said the president should repay the money used on non-security features which include a swimming pool, cattle enclosure and chicken run.

The government has always argued that the work was needed to improve security.