South Africa’s ombudswoman has given President Jacob Zuma a fortnight to explain why he should not repay some of the $23 million of public money lavished on his farm, media reported Sunday.
Thuli Madonsela, who is in charge of overseeing public spending, said in March that Zuma had unduly profited from work to increase the security of his home in Nkandla, in the east of the country, including the building of a swimming pool, amphitheatre, cattle enclosure and henhouse.
Last month Zuma wrote a 40-page memo to the president of the South African parliament disputing the charges — four months after Madonsela had first signalled her alarm at the expenditure — claiming that the ombudswoman had overstepped her mandate.
He said he was passing the matter on to Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko to decide whether there had been any overspending.
But according to the City Press newspaper, Madonsela reprimanded the president in a letter, demanding a proper explanation within 14 days. “Reports of the public protector (ombudswoman) are by law not subject to any review or second-guessing by a minister and/or the cabinet,” she was quoted as saying.
“I am concerned that the decision you have made regarding the police minister gives him power he does not have under law,” she wrote.
Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj confirmed that the president had received a letter from Madonsela, who could not be contacted for comment Sunday by AFP.