News24

R65m for Zuma's Nkandla

2009-12-04 12:21

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma is expanding his Nkandla residence at a cost of R65m, although the presidency has denied the part of the Mail & Guardian report that taxpayers' money would pay toward it.

The publication reported that the taxpayer was footing "the largest chunk of the bill" for the construction of a police station, helicopter pad, military clinic, visitors' centre, parking lot for 40 vehicles and three staff quarters.

Construction on one double storey structure and a guest house was already underway at the KwaZulu-Natal homestead.

"Given that state money is involved, how future presidents will benefit from the development remains unclear," the report commented.

Government at first said it had no record of such a development and no hand in any of Zuma's personal property endeavours.

Insinuation

But just before deadline the presidency told the publication the Zuma family had planned extensions to the homestead before the elections earlier this year with no government funding used for the construction work.

But, the state would undertake construction work in line with the security and medical requirements relating to heads of state in the Republic, outside the perimeter of the household.

"We urge the media to leave the family alone to conduct its business, and reject any insinuation that there could be any untoward abuse of state resources by the president or his family," the presidency said on Thursday.

"The demarcation at Nkandla is very clear, and there can be no reason to confuse the private construction work in the Zuma household and the state facilities that will be constructed outside the perimeter."

The publication also said it could not find the architectural plans for the construction work. The newspaper was upset that the presidency made the statement on Thursday and broke its exclusivity on the matter.

"By effectively breaking our story in advance, and robbing us of exclusivity, the presidency has damaged the relationship of trust that we had developed with officials there," said M&G editor-in-chief Nic Dawes in a statement.