Zulu monarch snubs Nkandla architect in palace project

2014-08-14 00:00

THE Zulu Royal Household has publicly snubbed President Jacob Zuma’s personal architect Minenhle Makhanya, stating he will not design the Zulu king’s new palace.

The Nkandla architect had been widely reported as the lead architect appointed to design Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini’s eighth palace in KwaNobamba near Ulundi.

But this week, in the wake of being saddled with the R155 million bill to settle for his involvement in the building of the President’s Nkandla homestead, Makhanya was dropped.

Royal Household spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said that Makhanya would play no part in the palace project.

“He [Makhanya] will have no involvement in the palace, I can assure you of that,” he said.

“I do not know where this is coming from but he will not be involved in the construction of the king’s palace,” Zulu added.

Court papers filed by the Special Investigating Unit in the Pietermaritzburg High Court this week saddle Makhanya with the blame for soaring costs on the Nkandla project.

Under his administration, the costs rose from a budgeted R28 million to more than R246 million, the SIU said.

The unit also said his appointment was illegal as no competitive bidding or open tender process was followed.

He had been appointed in spite of him not being on the Department of Public Works’ list of registered suppliers.

Makhanya allegedly authorised improvements that were far beyond what had been budgeted for or which were regarded as necessary.

The Zulu palace, understood to be worth over R30 million, will be funded privately.

The millions needed to complete the project have been privately sought from business associates of Prince Butho Zwelithini, who has commercial interests in Equatorial Guinea.

As the listed architect, Makhanya would have designed the palace and taken responsibility for the crafting of budgets, as well as tenders and procurement. The palace project is still pending approval of the Department of Environmental Affairs as the location is in the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park.

Reports of Minenhle Makhanya and Associates being retained for the project broke days before he was named as the first respondent in the hard-hitting court papers.

The move yesterday by the monarch further isolates the embattled architect who has 20 days to respond in writing to the SIU’s civil claim.

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