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The safety feature that could unseat a president

When Jacob Zuma was elected president of South Africa in 2009, his Nkandla ranch became the centre of major construction works, ostensibly to improve the head of state’s security. Among the 200 million rand (£9.4 million) renovations, was a now-infamous swimming pool, which the president’s office insisted doubled up as a ‘firepool’, supplying water to emergency services in case of an inferno at the residence. The security functions of the gymnasium, football pitch, amphitheatre, chicken run and cattle pens were not disclosed at the time.

A 2014 report by the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, ruled that Zuma had gained personal benefits from the state-funded security upgrades, and said that he should pay the state back. He declined, but in March, the country’s highest court ruled that he breached the constitution by ignoring Madonsela’s order.

It could have been the last nail in the coffin for the beleaguered president’s career, coming in the wake of seismic allegations of corruption and the country’s economic downturn, but on April 5 Parliament voted not to impeach Zuma by a majority of 233 to 143. However, with local elections coming up in May, the electorate will soon have a chance to opine on their leadership, which could push his party, the ANC, to hasten his retirement.

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