JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s government took to the courts on Friday to delay the release of an investigation into a $19 million taxpayer-funded upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla in rural KwaZulu-Natal province.
Zuma and the ruling African National Congress, which faces elections next year, have come under criticism over the security upgrade, which included the building of a helipad, numerous outbuildings and an all-weather soccer pitch.
South Africa’s Public Protector, a government watchdog, has investigated the upgrades and last week released a preliminary report to several government departments, including the state security agency, for comment.
The government on Friday filed a court interdict asking for more time to consider its response. It is now likely to be months before the findings of the investigation become public.
Next year’s elections are likely to be held as early as April. While Zuma is expected to sail to a victory, many South Africans believe corruption has risen during his five years in office.
According to global graft watchdog Transparency International, Africa’s biggest economy ranked 38th in the world in 2001 in terms of corruption but has since slipped to 69th.
($1 = 10.2993 South African rand)
Reporting by Peroshni Govender; Editing by David Dolan