South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has taken out a home loan to repay public funds expended on non-security upgrades to his private residence, his office announced Monday.
Zuma had agreed in February to refund part of the $23 million he had controversially spent on renovating his private estate in Nkandla in the KwaZulu-Natal province in 2014.
The president had fitted the estate with luxuries that include a swimming pool and an amphitheatre.
In a devastating blow that rocked Zuma financially and politically, the Constitutional Court ordered him to return some of the $16 million spent on the renovations, with near record unemployment and a stagnant economy driving discontent with the septuagenarian leader, Reuters writes.
He survived an impeachment vote in April over the Nkandla costs with backing from the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, although the party would suffer its worst losses in municipal elections in August as the opposition Democratic Alliance took control of key cities including the capital Pretoria and the economic hub of Johannesburg.
According to the president’s office, Zuma had taken out a home loan from private black-owned VBS Mutual Bank to repay 7.8 million rand ($538,000) – the sum determined by the Treasury in June as the “reasonable cost” he should bear.
“There was no special dispensation for the president, he received the loan on standard terms, the same terms as anybody else” Presidential spokeswoman Bongani Ngqulunga said.
A Treasury spokeswoman confirmed the payment, and while the opposition party said it welcomed the repayment by Zuma, it urged him to show proof to parliament that he had received a home loan and that VBS Mutual was not “a front”.