Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has 45 days to pay back $500,000 of public money spent refurbishing his private home, a lawyer said Tuesday, after the Constitutional Court approved the sum.
The court found in March that the president had violated the constitution by defying an order to repay some of the money in one of several scandals that have dogged his government.
The treasury last month valued the non-security upgrades — including a chicken coop — at Nkandla, Zuma’s traditional homestead, at 7,814,155 million rand ($542,000).
“This court signifies… its approval of the amount,” said a letter signed Tuesday by the court’s registrar.
Dylan Cron, one of the lawyers involved in bringing the case, confirmed receiving the letter and told AFP that the president has to pay back the money “within 45 days” as the court ordered in its original judgement.
A 2014 report by the public ombudswoman, Thuli Madonsela, found that Zuma and his family had “unduly benefited” from the upgrades and ordered him to pay back some of the money.
The Nkandla scandal has become a symbol of alleged widespread corruption and greed within the ruling ANC party, which faces a tough challenge in next week’s local elections.
After the court’s ruling in March, Zuma was urged to step down by several ANC veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle that brought Nelson Mandela to power in 1994.
It was unclear whether the president would be able to pay the money, and his office made no immediate comment on Tuesday.