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S. Africa govt takes ombudsman to court over Zuma report

South Africa’s government said Thursday it would take the country’s ombudsman to court over her damning report into taxpayer funded refurbishments at President Jacob Zuma’s private home.

In a move that is sure to intensify an already political charged dispute, security ministers said they would ask the high court to review watchdog Thuli Madonsela’s report into the $23 million upgrades.

Madonsela ruled that Zuma unduly benefited from the work on his rural home in Nkandla — which included the building of a helipad, swimming pool, private clinic and amphitheatre.

She also ordered Zuma to repay some of the costs.

Zuma maintains he did not order the renovations. “They did this without telling me… so why should I pay for something I did not ask for”, he has said.

Since the publication of her report in March, the president’s administration has come out all guns blazing against Madonsela — who was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

On Thursday security ministers went a step further and said they would take Madonsela to court, saying “the Public Protector’s report and the investigation she conducted trespass on the separation of powers”.

“Some of the findings and remedial action proposed by the Public Protector in her report are irrational, contradictory and are informed by material errors of law,” the ministers said in a statement.

In a statement Madonsela said “she could not imagine any court of law finding in the ministers’ favour,” and that by law parliament must discuss the matter first.

On Wednesday a veteran member of Zuma’s own ANC said the president was aware of the upgrades.

“The president knew about it because he was there and he complained,” said former ANC MP Ben Turok. “He said ‘please don’t put windows there and put them there and there’.”