Africa

Zuma Nkandla home: South Africa's DA lays criminal charges

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Media captionSatellite images showed Mr Zuma's growing residence

South Africa's main opposition party has laid corruption charges against the president over the use of state money to improve his private rural residence.

The move follows a report by South Africa's top corruption fighter accusing President Jacob Zuma of unethical conduct over the upgrade.

The changes to Mr Zuma's private home, including a pool and cattle enclosure, cost taxpayers about $23m (£13.8m).

Police are now obliged to investigate the Democratic Alliance's complaint.

It will then be passed on to the National Prosecuting Authority which will decide whether there is a formal case to answer.

The refurbishment of the residence in Nkandla, in Mr Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal, has turned into a major political controversy in South Africa as the country approaches elections in May.

'Politicking'

A government probe in December cleared President Zuma, who came to office in 2009, of any wrongdoing, saying the improvements were needed for security reasons.

"We are laying charges because we want the president to be held personally liable," said Mmusi Maimane, the national spokesman for the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The report released by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Wednesday said Mr Zuma should repay costs for some of the unnecessary renovations from which he had "benefited unduly".

But she said that while it could be "legitimately construed" that Mr Zuma had misled parliament, he made a "bona fide mistake" over which part of the renovations he was referring to.

Mr Maimane led a DA delegation to file eight charges against the president at the police station in Nkandla, near Mr Zuma's home.

Referring to the Nkandla compound, he said: "I am angered because what we see behind us is corruption of the highest order.

"If we allow this president to continue today we are systematically allowing corruption to thrive in South Africa."

He told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that he genuinely believed their charges would result in a court case.

"Private citizens are well within their rights [to lay charges] when they are concerned, particularly here when there's such a public interest in the matter… we are acting on behalf of the people of this republic," he said.

The political party recently formed by the controversial former African National Congress (ANC) youth leader Julius Malema has also laid charges against Mr Zuma.

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told the BBC that charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption and theft of public money in relation to Nkandla had been laid at Sunnyside Police Station in the capital, Pretoria.

Earlier, Gwede Mantashe, the secretary general of the governing ANC, said officials implicated in Ms Madonsela's report should be brought to book.

But he dismissed the DA's earlier calls for Mr Zuma to be impeached saying opposition parties were trying to "sensationalise" the report.

"It is politicking," he said.

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