R6m to R248m in two years

2012-11-24 19:43

More questions about how much Zuma actually paid for his five Nkandla houses.

Fresh documents about President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla upgrade reveal that price was never a factor as the project’s value ballooned from R6.4 million to R248 million in two years.

A clear picture is emerging of an ever-growing project, with more and more items being added to the public works department’s shopping basket.

And there is now, for the first time, proof that Zuma knew about the extent of the splurge.

Former Public Works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde wrote to the president on November 5 last year, detailing her department’s work at the homestead.

The correspondence to Zuma was also signed by Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the department’s former deputy minister, as well as senior departmental staff.

The project was initiated in August 2009.

A year later, Mahlangu-Nkabinde’s predecessor Geoff Doidge responded to a written question in Parliament about the Nkandla upgrade, stating it would cost R6.4 million in total, with R5.7 million spent on professional fees.

An amount of R700 000 was budgeted for the relocation of families, site establishment and the construction of bypass roads.

A month later, a top-secret report compiled by the department’s Durban regional office estimated the project would cost “above R100 million”.

An undated Public Works presentation, which is in City Press’ possession, put the total expenditure for the department at R89 million and for Zuma personally at R23 million.

Zuma’s expenditure consisted mainly of the construction of two new houses, at a cost of R6.5million each, according to this document.

In September, City Press revealed the state’s “portion” of the project rocketed to R203 million. Zuma’s portion, according to the regional Public Works manager in Durban, came down to R10.6 million.

The letter, written in March last year, didn’t stipulate what Zuma was paying for, but previous documents indicated the president was funding the construction of two houses.

In Parliament last week, Zuma said he had paid for “five additional houses”.

This raises the question of how it was possible for Zuma’s share to decrease from R23 million to R10.6 million, despite him building more houses for himself and his family than was previously reported.

The newest set of Public Works documents in City Press’ possession show the current cost of the project has grown to R248 million.

This is money paid by the state and doesn’t include Zuma’s unknown contribution.

When Zuma spoke about a bond in Parliament last week, he was referring to a home loan acquired for him by his businessman-friend Vivian Reddy.

The loan to fund the initial building of rondavels in 2000 was worth R1 million.

But the president is opaque about the funding of his five new, much bigger homes.

Reddy was quoted on Monday by Durban daily, The Mercury, as saying: “I am very close to Nkandla.

I lent the president the money to pay for the first phase and he paid it back. Now he has taken a new bond.”

But he backtracked when City Press asked him for more detail concerning his support for the latest developments at Nkandla.

On Friday night, Reddy informed City Press via SMS that he had no involvement in a second Nkandla bond.

“I am not involved in the current bond nor have I contributed towards the president’s home,” he said.

Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj did not respond to questions. – Additional reporting by Paddy Harper

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