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Law expert: Zuma could be charged if lying

President Jacob Zuma could be in hot water if he is found to have lied to Parliament.

President Jacob Zuma could be in hot water if he is found to have lied to Parliament.

CAPE TOWN - A constitutional law expert on Tuesday said the Public Protector could be asked to investigate whether President Jacob Zuma has misled parliament.

Last week, Zuma told members of Parliament (MPs) that a bond had been taken out to fund the renovations of his home, but the City Press reported that it could not find proof that such a bond had been registered.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has since written to National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu asking him for clarity on the matter.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said the Public Protector could investigate whether the president had misled Parliament.

"This can be investigated and determined by the Public Protector, as all other breaches of the executive members ethics code can be determined by the Public Protector."

He said theoretically, if the President was found to have been lying, there could be an argument for criminal charges to be brought.

"If that person misled Parliament, there's potential for that person to be prosecuted criminally for defrauding members of Parliament."

Last week, a visibly upset Zuma told Parliament that his family is paying for the expansions in Nkandla.

"I've never asked government to build a home for me."

Meanwhile, a Durban businessman claims to have lent the president money for the renovations.

Vivian Reddy says he lent Zuma the money to pay for the first phase and the President paid it back.

According to Reddy, the President has now taken a new bond.

However, reports claim that government has spent nearly R250 million on upgrades to the president's private home.

At the same time, the Presidency released a statement earlier saying Zuma has indeed taken out a home loan for his home upgrade.

Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said, "We reaffirm that President Zuma does indeed have a bond on the residence, with one of the national banks, and he is still paying it off on monthly instalments. We urge the media to respect the agencies that are investigating the various aspects of the security announcement at the residence."

It is not clear whether the Nkandla debacle will affect Zuma's chances of a re-election in Mangaung in December.

Some members of the ANC and the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) have made it clear that they want Zuma to serve a second term.