South African President Jacob Zuma has proposed that the auditor-general and finance minister determine how much money he is liable to pay for controversial state-funded improvements to his rural home, Zuma’s office said.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in a 2014 report Zuma had “benefited unduly” from some of the upgrades that cost nearly 250 million rand ($15.3 million) and included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre.
Madonsela said Zuma should repay the state for the costs of the unnecessary renovations, but the president has denied any wrongdoing.
Opposition parties, particularly the militant left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have since frequently heckled Zuma in parliament over his refusal to pay the money.
The EFF and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have taken the matter to the Constitutional Court, with a hearing set for next Tuesday.
The presidency said in a statement issued late on Tuesday night Zuma had proposed that the chief auditor and the finance minister fix the amount due from him in order to “achieve an end to the drawn-out dispute”.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on South African radio his party would not agree to a “settlement that will undermine the public protector”. EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the movement would consult its lawyers.
“President Zuma is not responding out of the goodness of his heart or out of understanding the importance of respecting the …. recommendations of the public protector,” Ndlozi said.