Report Finds South Africa President Zuma Misappropriated Millions in State Funds

Photo Credit: John A. Forbes

report released March 19 following a two-year investigation by South Africa’s Office of the Public Protector found that President Jacob Zuma misappropriated $23 million in state funds to renovate his private home.  Freedom House applauds efforts by the Office of the Public Protector to hold the government accountable, and calls on all parties involved in the investigation to respond appropriately to ensure that constitutional checks and balances are implemented, and ensure that constitutionally-mandated bodies like the Public Protector are respected.

The report found that $23 million in state funds went toward improvements to President Zuma’s private home at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal Province - justified by Zuma as “security upgrades.” Renovations included a swimming pool, a visitor center, and an amphitheater. The report concluded that President Zuma “unduly benefited from the enormous capital investment from the non-security installations at his private residence” and that his failure to protect state resources was “inconsistent with his office as a member of Cabinet”.

The Office of the Public Protector is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by government bodies or officials, reporting findings, and recommending action.  The release of this report six weeks prior to elections demonstrates the importance of an independent Office of the Public Protector, and the positive impact it can have by placing checks on the executive branch.

Learn more:
Blog: What Do South Africans Say about Mandela, Politics, and the Future?
Looking Ahead after 20 Years of South African Democracy
Freedom in the World 2013: South Africa
Freedom of the Press 2013: South Africa
Freedom on the Net 2013: South Africa