PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Edward Love
 
Comments: 4
Article views: 1404
 
 
Latest Badges:

 
View all Edward Love's badges.
 

Looking back at "Nkandlagate"

23 January 2014, 14:09

Finding the right house is an exciting but time-consuming process. We might go through an estate agent, or type “houses for sale” into google and follow the link – or, if we’re feeling particularly spur-of-the-moment, drive around our neighbourhood in search of a picket that says: For Sale.

Once we’ve found our dream home, buying the house is an investment that we work our entire adult lives towards. Even when we’ve paid it off in full, we still work to furnish, maintain and secure it.

But not if you’re Jacob Zuma. No, if you’re President Zuma, you have a piece of land cherry-picked for you. Then you deem that land private, get entangled in a bond, evict nearby residences for the purposes of expansion, award vast sums of money to unqualified architects to perform this expansion and, finally, hide the astronomical bill from the public. To date, Zuma’s property (“palatial estate” might be a better phrase) in Nkandla has received upgrades to the tune of R200 million. That’s taxpayer’s money being pumped into a homestead brimming with nonessential luxuries.  

News of Nkandlagate first broke in 2012 and caused a national uproar. A nationwide scandal erupted at the doorstep of the ANC and the media quickly acted, added the obligatory suffix “gate” to “Nkandla.” Eighteen months on, Jeanne Prinsloo’s thoughtful article on the matter for the Daily Maverick illustrates that there was no bias directed at the ANC on principle – rather, it was the ANC’s practises that caused the uproar. The ANC has always maintained that certain sections of the media has it in for them. Prinsloo contends that it isn’t the case.

So for those living in the dark, how did the story unfold?

In 2012, when the story broke, the ANC responded to the criticism with customary indifference and almost admirable gumption, claiming that the compound required extensive upgrades to make it secure for visiting heads of state. So why was the money being used to air condition every room of every house, too? What really rankled was the ANC’s attitude to it all. They seemed to be asking: why does the public need to know how public funds are being used in the first place?

Today, the Nkandla homestead has 31 new buildings (some costing as much as R8 million each) nicely air-conditioned rooms (over a million rand was spent on this amenity alone), a cattle culvert, safe haven and security guards’ tuck shop. Aerial photographs give a visual proof of this greed, showing a luxury gated estate full of chalets, houses and recreational buildings. This is an estate for Zuma’s entire brood; but it’s not the president’s only homestead. He owns other houses around the country too.  

As soon as the story emerged, the DA responded with vigour (and a little naivety). Zille and a team of DA members visited Nkandla, in Kwazulu-Natal, to get a closer look at where all the money was going. But police blocked the road to the homestead warning Zille that a large group of ANC members were gathered further up the road. As a result, the DA would have to be kept at bay for fear of violence. Zille questioned why buses carrying ANC supporters were being allowed through, but didn’t get any clarification.

A cynic might suggest the ANC members were strategically brought in, and that the police were instructed to use this gambit to ward off the DA. The credulous might argue Zuma’s fervent army of support is simply too energetic to be repressed.

What Nkandlagate brings into question is whether it’s ethical to question the private life of a head of state. But as Jeanne Prinsloo exposes in her reasoned piece, Zuma’s use of public money to fund his homestead in Nkandla immediately makes it a matter of public debate.

Zuma has always distanced himself from the issue, with the president portraying himself as a victim in the story. At first he claimed that the money used to fund Nkandla was his own (which begs the question: how does a head of state accrue over R200 million?). Next, he argued that he wasn’t aware the money was being spent in the first place (again: surely a head of state would know of work being done to his home?).

On January 28, 2013, a letter leaked by the City Press revealed that Zuma did know. In the document, former Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde writes to Zuma to update him on the progress of Nkandla.

As for the architect who oversaw Nkandla’s upgrade, Minenhle Makhanya is no longer a qualified architect, but was personally selected by the president.  The R18 million Makhanya received for the job is, in the words of Pietermaritzburg architect Lew Bryan, “[astonishing]”.

“We haven’t seen that kind of fee in 10 years,” he said.

In the end it’s ironic that Zuma has chosen to have his palace built in his hometown, where poverty is rife and the impoverished go hungry. The prodigal son has returned; but he’s returned blithely indifferent to the concerns of his voters.

Perhaps brandishing Zuma as the sole perpetrator in “Nkandlagate” is wrong. He has after all abstained – for the time being – from signing the “Secrecy Bill” into law. Perhaps the majority of the blame lies squarely at the feet of his minders. But as a president, criticisms of his rule are his to bear.  All I know is that I’m grateful our free press continues to expose corruption. We might have to foot the bill for Zuma’s polygamy, but at least we know about it.

Don’t forget the air conditioning in every room, either. 

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Tommie Cato
Match fixing, or not

In the midst of all the allegations that Haroon Lorgat & Fikile Mbalula forced the Proteas’ management team to select a player of colour one thought comes to mind. Read more...

4 comments 295 views
Submitted by
FrancoisFMarais
Eskom, Googly and a Banana Republ...

Seems like the ANC just cannot get over this race issue.  Read more...

4 comments 368 views
Submitted by
Chris Pieters
No Tunnel Never Mind the Light

Have we become so intolerant of one another that nothing can be done peacefully and in a dignified manner any longer. Read more...

4 comments 181 views
Submitted by
Lwethu Ndlazilwana
Lesson #1

Part of the Definition of Democracy is Rule by the Majority, now this one is the seriously funny part that the brothers and sisters from Europe who are now Africans rightfully seem to forget. Read more...

25 comments 508 views
Submitted by
Hendrik Du Toit924
Open letter to the International ...

I send this request as a South African cricket supporter to ask for the International Cricket Council for their view/standpoint on Cricket South Africa’s policies of interfering with the selection of players based on merit. Read more...

3 comments 1235 views
Submitted by
Scheepers de Bruin
Icons and Idols revised

These people did great things and they did shitty things - so how come we only remember the good deeds of some and the bad deeds of others? Read more...

0 comments 79 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.