Durban - If President Jacob Zuma ploughed his entire salary into paying off the unnecessary upgrades to Nkandla, it would take him nearly 40 years.
In the wake of the release of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report, opposition parties have echoed her call for Zuma to reimburse the state for extravagant upgrades to his private home.
This week the DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) laid a string of charges against Zuma in widely publicised displays in Nkandla and Pretoria.
The basis of the charges, and the ultimate directive of Madonsela’s findings, was for Zuma, with the assistance of the National Treasury and the police, to pay back part of the total cost of upgrades that she found did not pertain directly to the security at the compound.
These include the visitors centre, amphitheatre, cattle kraal, chicken run, and swimming pool, all which total nearly R79m.
The protector’s report made critical findings against Zuma and ministers in the security cluster and the ministry of Public Works.
The report ordered that Zuma admonish the ministers involved for the “appalling manner” in which the project was undertaken and how “state funds were abused”.
Zuma earns a salary of R2.5 million a year and the business interests of his wives and children are extensive.
Collectively the Zuma clan have claims to a raft of business and property interests across the country.
He also boasts a laundry list of benefactors who have dug deep into their pockets in the past to prop up the president.
These include the Gupta family, Durban tycoon Vivian Reddy and businessman Roy Moodley.
Another of his backers is the now medically paroled Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of corruption for his R4m gift to Zuma.
IFP secretary-general Sibongile Nkomo said a court should compel Zuma to pay back the R79m he used for his own benefit in Nkandla.
“But first there needs to be a thorough forensic audit carried out. This financial investigation will tell us how he used this money,” said Nkomo.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said it was simply not enough for Zuma to pay back the millions in upgrade costs.
“Whether or not the president will be able to pay back what has been spent is unclear, given his salary and all of his business interests and those of his family. Why does an investigation by a chapter 9 institution have to be the last straw? Why do the media and Madonsela have to find him guilty before he considers that the upgrades to his home to be excessive?”
“After two years of trying to bury this issue in secrecy, Zuma and his ministers have been outed. I think the likelihood of him paying back the millions he owes is slim, and even if he does it will be under duress.”
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa called for Zuma to “deploy himself elsewhere” once a forensic probe into his personal finances was complete.
“He needs to pay back in full everything that he owes and then deploy himself elsewhere, it is now clear that he cannot be trusted to look after the resources of this country,” he said.
“I would go a step further and call for a forensic audit into his personal affairs, just to make sure that monies paid to the architect and the contractor were not channelled back to him.
“After all we know he was in financial difficulty, we as a country now deserve to know the source of his wealth. After all it was he who engineered their enrichment at the cost of the state,” Holomisa added.