R200m splurge on Zuma homestead

2012-09-29 20:53

Zuma to pay just 5% for Nkandla revamp, taxpayers the rest.

The extensive and very hush-hush ­revamp of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead is set to cost taxpayers a whopping R203 million.

City Press can reveal that the public works department approved the budget in March last year, despite earlier claims by the department that Zuma was funding the project from his own pocket.

According to official departmental documentation, the president will only pay R10.6 million himself. This is less than 5% of the total cost to revamp his family compound in Nxamalala village.

The work – which includes the building of a helipad, underground bunkers and fencing around the entire complex – was started by contractors in 2010.

Documents seen by City Press show that payments of R43 963 005 have been made by public works for the “installation of security measures” by June this year.

It is not clear whether the entire contract has been paid for as yet.

The presidency and public works have declined to comment on the project, which is titled Prestige Project A, citing security concerns.

Earlier reports suggested that Zuma would foot the majority of the bill, but official documentation in the possession of City Press tells another story.

According to a public works memorandum sent to former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde on March 28 last year, a “planning instruction” was issued to provide “security measures in line with Cabinet regulations” to Zuma’s compound.

The purpose of the memorandum, written by Durban regional manager Kenneth Khanyile, was to clarify the“apportionment of cost between (the) state’s responsibility and (the) private (cost to the owner)”.

The scope of the work was divided as follows:

» The “public (state’s) portion: R203 079 677.18”; and

» The “private (owner’s) portion: R10 651 580.64”.

Khanyile stated that work had begun in 2010 and that the department’s head office assisted in apportioning costs between the department and Zuma, particularly over “shared services and new installations”.

The scope of the work for which taxpayers would pay the R203 million was “approved and agreed in the meeting held (at head office) on 10 March 2011 and is in the process of being implemented and shall be concluded in line with the mandate given to the (department),” Khanyile wrote.

He further informed Mahlangu-Nkabinde that the department had already spent R205 000 on electrical cabling and lightning protectors – something that Zuma was supposed to fund.

“Please note that the implementation of some of these issues was unavoidable and some had already been completed.”

The rest of the work – including extensive landscaping of Zuma’s residential compound – fell “outside the scope of security measures”.

Khanyile requested “written instruction” from “top ­management” to proceed with work the state was not supposed to fund.

He suggested that Mahlangu-Nkabinde discuss this with Zuma, whom he refers to as the “principal”, because the “financial implication directly affects him”.

Khanyile wrote: “He may want to implement these issues himself without the interference of the department or else he may want to opt to reimburse the department after we complete the same.”

The memorandum recommends that work “falling within the mandate” should continue and that work “apportioned to the principal” should be discussed and that “guidance” should be given to the implementation team.

It is unclear what Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Zuma decided.

Khanyile refused to speak to City Press. Presidency spokesperson Zanele ­Mngadi referred City Press to public works for comment.

However, the ­department’s acting director-general, Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie, declined to comment on the amount that was spent.

“The Nkandla presidential residence, like all other presidential residences in South Africa, is a national key point.

As such, information related to the national key point is protected in terms of the National Key Point Act,” was all she said.

The “handling of information for this residence” is protected in terms of the 1982 Protection of Information Act and other state security prescripts, Fatyela-Lindie said.

The Nkandla compound was built by Zuma in 2000.

The corruption trial of Schabir Shaik, Zuma’s former financial adviser, heard that money from French arms dealer Thales was used to fund the building of the complex, which included several thatched houses and staff quarters.

In 2009, the Mail & Guardian (M&G) revealed that the compound would be upgraded to the tune of R65 million – a bill that has since dramatically increased.

Plans included the construction of three sets of underground living quarters with 10 air-conditioned rooms, a clinic for Zuma and his family, 10 houses for security personnel, a helipad, houses for air force and police units, underground parking, playgrounds and a visitors’ centre.

At the time of that report, public works said it knew nothing about the project.

Last November, the M&G quoted presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj confirming that public works would be paying for security-related facilities, but that Zuma was renovating his compound out of his own pocket.

When City Press visited the presidential compound this week, there was no visible construction taking place apart from an additional field directly below the perimeter fence having been cleared recently.

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