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S.Africa’s ombudsman bemoans attacks on Nkandla report

Published on 03/08/2015

South Africa's public ombudsman on Monday bemoaned attacks against her report into President Jacob Zuma's $24 million state-funded upgrades to his private residence.

The Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said her office had experienced unprecedented criticism after findings last year that highlighted the scope of wasteful expenditure in government.

“In its 20 years of existence this office has never received such vitriolic attacks,” said Madonsela.

Madonsela was last month prevented from addressing a parliamentary committee into the Nkandla project, as debate rages over Zuma’s liability for some of the cost.

The government has rejected the report by Madonsela, which ordered that Zuma must foot part of the bill.

Several internal investigations have absolved Zuma of any wrongdoing.

Madonsela said the internal reports had no “legal basis” to review her findings.

“President Zuma is partially accountable and yes, the president should pay back some of the money,” she told reporters.

She said attacks by the governing African National Congress (ANC) were made without any reference to specific parts of her report.

The facelift of the private residence included a swimming pool, an amphitheatre, a helipad, a cattle enclosure and a private clinic which is currently not used.

The homestead has become a symbol of corruption allegations against Zuma, who easily won elections in 2014.

Last month a delegation of opposition lawmakers visited the homestead in the remote village in the east of the country.

The official opposition, Democratic Alliance, called the upgrades “extravagant” and “far in excess of the minimum standard required to meet security needs”.

Zuma has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.