South Africa’s ruling party African National Congress has offered to help President Jacob Zuma repay the money he illegally used to varnish his rural palace in Nkandla, announced ANC party senior member Mr. David Mabuza.
“ANC will help Zuma if he doesn’t have the money,” said Mabuza, who is also the governor of Mpumalanga.
Although some party members have publicly faulted President Zuma and asked him to step aside, majority of the party officials have backed him in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, which found him guilty and ordered him to repay some of the amount.
Ahmed Kathrada, a veteran politician who was detained alongside the late President Nelson Mandela during the apartheid struggle, is among the senior members of ANC who have gone contrary to the party’s position and openly asked Zuma to step down.
However, Governor Mabuza said the party respects and supports divergence of opinions but asked the opposing stalwarts to allow the party to handle the matter.
Supreme Court Ruling
On March 31, 2016 South Africa’s Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling declaring President Jacob Zuma guilty in a case where he was accused of using millions of dollars (public funds) to renovate his palace in the rural village of Nkandla.
Delivering the ruling, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said that the court had found the President guilty of failing to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
“All the President was required to do was to comply, even if he had reason to doubt its correctness,” said the Chief Justice.
The court further gave the national treasury 60 days to determine the ideal amount the President should pay back, after which Zuma will have 45 days to clear the amount.
The total upgrade was valued at 216 million rand ($24 million) in 2014, and has become one of the biggest corruption scandals to happen under President Zuma’s watch.
Protests and Impeachment Bid
During the court hearing thousands of protesters camped outside the court chanting “Zuma must fall!” The corruption scandal also saw the President heckled by parliamentarians as he addressed parliament.
An impeachment motion tabled in parliament by opposition parliamentarians failed after the ANC, which controls about two-thirds of the South African parliament, voted against it. Beyond the botched impeachment motion, pressure is mounting on President Zuma to step aside.
Zuma has since apologized publicly and accepted to repay the money but has vowed not to step aside, saying that his intention was not to pursue corruption or to use public money to benefit himself or his family.