I DID NOTHING WRONG—In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 file photo, South African president Jacob Zuma, front, stands before a guard of honor at Parliament before the yearly State of the Nation address in Cape Town, South Africa. At back left is deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe. (AP Photo/Mike Hutchings, Pool, File)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – A scandal surrounding more than $20 million in state spending on the South African president’s private home has ignited a debate about moral leadership and alleged corruption ahead of May elections, even prompting satirical songs based on smash hits such as “Gangnam Style.”

The uproar comes at a pivotal time for President Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress party, the former anti-apartheid movement that has dominated South African politics since the end of White racist rule two decades ago.

Opposition parties hope to make inroads against the electoral front runner by driving a wedge between ANC supporters and the president, whose tenure has been hit by allegations of state graft.

President Jacob Zuma said government security officials controlled the project at his home and that efforts by the political opposition to bring criminal charges against him for alleged misuse of state money will fail, South Africa media reported last Monday.

“There is no case,” The New Age newspaper quoted Zuma as saying at a campaign stop near opposition-held Cape Town. “They can look for me even under the trees. They are never going to find me because I never did anything wrong.”

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