Nkandla tuck shock

2013-02-03 10:00

Included in the government’s R206?million splurge on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla compound is a tuck shop built for First Lady Sizakele Khumalo’s use.

City Press can reveal that the department of public works paid a contractor to build a brand-new tuck shop for MaKhumalo.

This challenges Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi’s contention that government only spent money on security upgrades and operational measures at Nkandla.

MaKhumalo is Zuma’s first wife and has been running a tuck shop and vegetable garden at Nkandla for years.

The website of her Mashobane Foundation states that she “presides over the homestead in Nkandla, where she is often seen among ordinary rural South Africans”.

“She is active in the community, and her interest is agriculture and food security. She runs a vegetable garden and a tuck shop in Nkandla.”

A high-level source with knowledge of the Nkandlagate splurge told City Press it was an open secret that the new tuck shop built at the president’s homestead was for the private use of his first wife.

At last week’s press conference on the scandal, Nxesi was at pains to defend Zuma’s hands-off role in the process and said there was “no evidence” that public money was spent to build the “private residence” of the president. But Nxesi said nothing about the new tuck shop.

In an official public works progress report, dated November 5 2010, the cost for the construction of a “guard house, bin and tuck shop” was estimated to be R586?467.

Neither of Zuma’s spokespersons responded to questions this week.

Nxesi’s legal adviser, Phillip Masilo, said disclosing information about a National Key Point was “outside the normal standard”.

He didn’t respond to specific questions on why the state was paying for a building upgrade that clearly benefits Zuma’s family.

Masilo said: “After the security assessments and threat analysis by the security agents, the department of public works was required to implement the recommendations in line with the assessment.

“We cannot comment on the allegations as we do not have knowledge of the documents to which you are referring.”

Nxesi has refused to release his full report.

Companies contracted on the project this week denied any wrongdoing. Nxesi announced his task team discovered irregularities in the appointment of service providers and in procurement processes.

These were referred to the Special Investigating Unit, Auditor-General and the police to investigate.

– Additional reporting by Thanduxolo Jika and Athandiwe Saba

» Read the full story in City Press newspaper today.

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