Jacob Zuma South Africa Luxury Mansion
Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), sings for his supporters at the Pietermaritzburg high court outside Durban. Reuters

South African police are investigating President Jacob Zuma for allegedly using $23m worth of taxpayers' money to refurbish his private home, say parliamentary papers.

South African police authorities confirmed that the investigation into the expenditure at Zuma's residence "has been initiated."

An anti-corruption watchdog report found that the South African leader's home had been converted into a display of "opulence on a grand scale" despite widespread poverty and inequality in the country.

"The President tacitly accepted the implementation of all measures at his residence and has unduly benefited from the enormous capital investment in the non-security installations at his private residence," Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in the report.

In what was originally a project intended as a "security upgrade", the costs of the luxury renovations totalled eight times that of securing Nelson Mandela's residence during his tenure as South African President.

Zuma has maintained that he had no knowledge of the renovation work at his home, which is reported to have included an ampitheatre, swimming pool and private clinic.

South Africa's opposition leader Mmusi Maimane, of the Democratic Alliance, said that "now the police must do their jobs" in reaction to the investigation announcement.