South Africa: Why they booed him; A watchdog says an improperly lavish sum was spent on the president’s home

South Africa: Why they booed him; A watchdog says an improperly lavish sum was spent on the president’s home
Mar 22nd 2014 | JOHANNESBURG | From the print edition


MANY a homebuyer is tempted by a down-at-heel residence that might be profitably resold after redecorating. Often they misjudge the scale of the work needed and end up out of pocket. The president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, made a different sort of error. His is proving costly not because he overpaid for rebuilding but because the taxpayer did.On March 19th the public protector, a watchdog, published a 447-page report on the 215m rand ($20m) of public money spent on Mr Zuma’s private home at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal. Its findings were damning. The notion advanced by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that the cost was justified for security reasons was quashed. There was no basis for believing that many of the features installed—a cattle enclosure, swimming pool, amphitheatre, extensive paving—were for security, it said. By his tacit acceptance of the scale and cost of the upgrade, Mr Zuma failed to protect public money. That amounted to “conduct that is inconsistent with his office”.
Because Mr Zuma “benefited unduly”, he should repay some of the cost, says the public protector. The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, has asked for Parliament to be recalled so that impeachment proceedings against Mr Zuma can begin.
A third of ANC voters said they were less likely to vote for the party because of the scandal, according to a poll in December. The booing he endured that month in front of world leaders at a memorial for Nelson Mandela was in part fuelled by anger at Nkandla’s grandeur.
The ANC will still win the election on May 7th. The shadow of far more serious corruption allegations against Mr Zuma did not stop the ANC winning 65% of the vote last time, in 2009. But this scandal should make the election the hardest it has yet fought.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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