Public funds were not spent on building South African president Jacob Zuma a house in his home village, state investigators have said, in a report that sought to end one of the biggest scandals to hit Mr Zuma before elections next year.
The report did say the government had spent 206 million rand (£14.56m) on security upgrades and related costs at the president’s private compound, and that this decision was based on a threat assessment.
Opposition politicians and media have said Mr Zuma used up to R250m of state funds to upgrade his private residence in his home village of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Public works minister Thulas Nxesi, who led the so-called “Nkandlagate” inquiry, yesterday said there was no evidence that public money was spent on Mr Zuma’s home or on any house belonging to him.
However, the state paid R71m for security upgrades at the complex, including bullet-proof windows, and an additional R135m rand was spent on “operational needs for state departments”, including support staff, medical facilities and accommodation, Mr Nxesi said.
The investigation did find irregularities in awarding tenders.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party called the report, which will not be made public, a “whitewash”, and said the investigators seemed more focused on punishing low-ranking officials than holding Mr Zuma responsible.
“There was absolutely no willingness on the part of government to admit to South Africans that spending this amount on one man’s home is ethically and lawfully wrong,” said Lindiwe Mazibuko, the DA’s parliamentary leader.
Despite securing more than 60 per cent of the vote in the last four democratic elections, the ANC is losing support to opposition parties, who have accused it of corruption and cronyism.