Zuma: I’m not ashamed of “Zumaville”

2012-09-13 15:13

President Jacob Zuma has said that villagers around his homestead at Nkandla could not be “punished” by being overlooked for development just because they were his neighbours.

Zuma was responding to questions from opposition MPs about why the department of rural development agreed to give R1 billion to the Mlalazi Smart Growth Centre barely three kilometres from his home.

Giggling as he started answering the question, he said: “Why should people close to Zuma’s homestead starve? Should they be punished because they are neighbours to Zuma? I don’t think that is the correct approach,” he said.

“Developing that area does not trouble me, it makes me very proud.”

He also said there shouldn’t be a conference to decide where funding for development should go, as suggested by opposition MPs, because this was determined by the demand of the people in the area and by scientific study.

He also said there was an imbizo where people were consulted.

“Unless you explain to me these people are condemned to be poor forever, if you happen to come from the same area as the president,” he said.

“I will never be embarrassed by development in rural areas, particularly in Nkandla where I grew up.”

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko pointed out that while millions were earmarked for development near Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, there was poverty elsewhere.

Villages like Ebizimali and Eqhudeni, within a 100km radius from Nkandla, were lacking water and electricity, she said.

But Zuma replied: “you have to start somewhere”.

He said: “You can’t say you will develop all areas on the same day at the same time. You go there because certain reasons led you to go there.”

Zuma named 23 poor rural areas nationwide that would get money from government for development, and denied that he had instructed government departments to give priority to development in his hometown – a project dubbed “Zumaville” by the media.

The project is expected to cost R2 billion, with half the funding coming from the state.

The development would include a school, libraries, a sport centre, housing and a shopping centre.

Zuma also denied that the department of agriculture was involved in the project.

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