I’m sorry, I’ll refund money, Zuma tells South Africans
South African President, Jacob Zuma, has welcomed the court judgement asking him to pay back part of the money spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead.
Zuma said in a televised address to the nation on Friday that he was willing to pay back money spent on non-security related upgrades at the house.
The President, in the address, urged “all parties to respect the judgement and will abide by it.”
“Let us use the judgement to build and further strengthen our democracy,” he added.
South Africa’s top court held on Thursday that President Jacob Zuma defied the constitution when he used $15m state funds to renovate his private home and ordered a refund.
The 11 justices of the country’s Constitutional Court had unanimously ruled that the President should reimburse some of the sum spent on the renovations, the amount of which will be determined by the national treasury.
Opposition parties had filed two cases, alleging misuse of public funds over the hefty price tag.
Zuma, therefore, apologised any inconvenience that the prolonged matter might have caused his people, saying, “The matter has caused a lot of frustration and confusion, for which I apologise, on my behalf and on behalf of government.”
A full text of Zuma’s address as reported on News24 read in part, “Yesterday, the Constitutional Court of the Republic, playing this crucial role, issued a judgement on the matter of security upgrades at my private residence in Nkandla.
“I welcome the judgement of the Constitutional Court unreservedly.
“The judgement has underscored the values that underpin our hard- won freedom and democracy, such as the rule of law and the accountability of public office bearers, while also respecting the rights of public office bearers facing scrutiny.
“The judgement has further strengthened our constitutional democracy and should make South Africans proud of their country’s Constitution and its strong and effective institutions.
“This is a ground-breaking judgement with regards to the powers of the Public Protector.
“I have consistently stated that I would pay an amount towards the Nkandla non-security upgrades once this had been determined by the correct authority. The Court has ruled on the matter and has devised a mechanism for such determination by the National Treasury.
“I wish to emphasise that I never knowingly or deliberately set out to violate the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the Republic.”
Denying any involvement in corruption, Zuma said, “The intention was not in pursuit of corrupt ends or to use state resources to unduly benefit me and my family. Hence I have agreed to pay for the identified items once a determination is made.”