South Africa graft watchdog to release Zuma report March 19

JOHANNESBURG Thu Mar 6, 2014 9:03am EST

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Roger Bosch/Pool

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town February 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Roger Bosch/Pool

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's main anti-corruption watchdog said on Thursday it would release its report into a $21 million state-funded security upgrade to President Jacob Zuma's private home on March 19, less than two months before a general election.

The cost of the upgrade to Zuma's rural homestead in Nkandla, in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, has sparked an outcry, with South Africa's biggest union calling for Zuma's resignation.

Last year, a newspaper published what it said were leaked findings of a provisional report in which Public Protector Thuli Madonsela ruled that Zuma had derived substantial personal gain from the upgrades and should pay back some of the money.

Madonsela has declined to comment on the report.

The government has denied any improper spending, justifying a cattle enclosure and chicken coop as necessary security features and classifying what the paper said was a swimming pool as a "fire pool" for dousing flames in the event of a fire.

Zuma's ruling African National Congress is almost certain to win the May 7 election, South Africa's fourth since the end of apartheid, but analysts say the scandal-plagued leader could shoulder the blame if the party polls below 60 percent.

(Reporting by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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