The South African parliamentary committee looking into the $23 million state-funded renovations of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence on Monday delayed their inquiry until after May 7 elections, sparking a furious reaction from the opposition.
The ruling African National Congress said the committee felt due to “the extreme importance of the matter” it should be given sufficient time and thus dealt with by the newly elected parliament.
An ombudsman last month found that Zuma unduly benefited from the millions spent on the renovations at his country homestead, which included a helipad, a swimming pool and even a chicken coop. He said the president should reimburse some of the “excessive” costs.
The parliamentary committee was set up at the request of the main opposition Democratic Alliance, which has also launched a criminal corruption case against Zuma.
“This is a pretty shameful state of affairs. The ANC claims the committee does not have the time to do the work. We have yet to hear… from the ANC on what the work is,” said the Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko.
Zuma is seeking a second term in the May 7 polls, which come as many South Africans are angry about the ANC-led administration’s handling of corruption cases, and the failure to create jobs and provide basic services like housing.
He 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.
“We want to do justice to this matter. That is why we are saying time is against us,” ANC Deputy Chief Whip Doris Dlakude said.