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Nkandla: South Africa’s Jacob Zuma challenged in top court

South Africa’s top court is hearing a challenge on whether the president should repay about $23m (£15m) of state funds used to renovate his rural home.

The Nkandla residence has become a political headache for Mr Zuma
The Nkandla residence has become a political headache for Mr Zuma

A 2014 report by an independent watchdog said Jacob Zuma had “benefited unduly” from the upgrades.

He has offered to pay some of it back but the case, brought by opposition parties, is going ahead regardless.

Large protests are expected, led by former Zuma ally turned fierce opponent Julius Malema.

The demonstration was against “corruption and cronyism”, a spokesman for his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said.

But Mr Zuma’s ANC party called the planned march to the court a “political exercise”.

Political row

The constitutional court in Johannesburg will also rule on whether the government flouted the law by ignoring recommendations of the watchdog, known as the Public Protector.

Mr Zuma has been cleared of wrongdoing in a police report over the Nkandla residence. The government has said the upgrades were made to boost security.

Some of the money was spent on building an amphitheatre, swimming pool, and cattle enclosure.

The saga has become a major political scandal, at one point sparking scuffles inside parliament.

It comes at a difficult time for Mr Zuma, who has also been under fire over his sacking of respected Finance Minister Nhalnhla Nene late last year. BBC