South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, has ruled that President Jacob Zuma violated the constitution by failing to refund government money he used to renovate a private residence.
In the case brought by two opposition parties – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) – the Chief Justice, Mogeong Mogoeng, in a unanimous decision adopted by all eleven judges of the court, ruled that failure to repay the money was “inconsistent” with the constitution.
Zuma had added a swimming pool and amphitheatre to the home, according to the opposition parties, at a cost an anti-graft body determined in 2014 was $23 million.
The renovations took place on Zuma’s rural home in Nkandla, in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
“The president failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution,” the constitutional court declared.
The court gave the treasury 60 days to determine how much the president should repay.
The president has however denied any wrongdoing, while a government statement said he would “reflect” on the judgement and take “appropriate action”.
Zuma’s administration, which was inaugurated in 2009, has been trailed by allegations of corruption and cronyism.
DA has said it would push for the president’s impeachment, while EFF called on the president to resign.
Zuma’s ruling African National Congress has said it respected the ruling.