Tue | Jan 23, 2018

South Africa's top court rules against president in scandal

Published:Friday | April 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
President Jacob Zuma


South African President Jacob Zuma "failed to uphold" the constitution when he did not pay back some of the millions of dollars in state funds used to upgrade his home, South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled on yesterday.

The ruling could significantly weaken the leader, who is fending off multiple accusations of alleged misconduct at the highest levels of government, though he still retained the support of powerful factions in his party, the African National Congress.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said it would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against Zuma. While Parliament has the power to remove him, ruling party lawmakers defeated a no-confidence vote against Zuma earlier this year.

Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng also said that Parliament, which is dominated by the ANC, had failed in its obligations by not holding Zuma to account in the spending scandal.

Speaking for South Africa's highest court, Mogoeng said that Zuma should not have ignored a state watchdog's recommendations that he should reimburse state funds spent on his rural home, known as Nkandla. The national treasury must calculate costs of upgrades unrelated to security at Zuma's home within 60 days, and the president must repay that amount within 45 days thereafter, the court said.