Zuma garden fit for a king

2014-09-15 00:00

ARCHITECT Minenhle Ma­khanya built a garden fit for a king — eventually spending more than R16 million on landscaping at President Jacob Zuma’s home.

This is the tale of reams of official Department of Public Works (DPW) documents made public in their pursuit of Zuma’s personal architect Makhanya.

Designing a garden fit for Zuma blossomed out of control.

Landscaping the grounds of the Zuma family’s sprawling Nkandla compound rose exponentially, with green thumbed contractors importing protected indigenous trees and plants from across the country.

In its completion phase, the plush presidential pad now looks part of the natural bush hillscape.

The embattled architect has been slapped with the mammoth R155 million bill for his alleged inflation of the cost of the compound.

The documents were filed in response to Makhanya’s intention to oppose the lawsuit, which came after months of mounting political and public pressure.

The flourishing cost of carefully designed indigenous gardens, manicured lawns and lush swathes of rehabilitated veld has been a point of focus in the graft- busting Specialised Investigating Unit’s report into the upgrades at the president’s compound.

According to DPW cost-allocation documents from 2011, over R16 million had been set aside for landscaping of the president’s home.

The bill was to be split between the public and private purse of the first citizen, although it is unclear how much of this bill has been settled.

Bonelena Construction and Moneymine CC scored big with the landscaping contract — the bulk of the business shared between the two.

Both companies were identified in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the upgrade of the homestead titled “Secure in Comfort”.

They found their way into the spotlight for unduly benefiting from inflated fees.

According to the documents submitted by landscape architects, large tracts of land had to be redesigned because of “new security measures”.

“The overall finished landscape is natural veld, enhanced with shrubs and trees and is not a manicured landscape,” the papers read. Among the enhancements are 12 protected cycads, which were brought in complete with tracking tags and papers for the landscaping project at a cost of R5 500 each.

Fully grown trees at R7 500 each were also shipped to the rural hamlet and strategically placed for “secrecy”.

No expense was spared in the establishment of feature gardens and ambience; with a proposed spend of hundreds of thousands of rands for recessed lighting which would “enhance the estate”.

One of the feature gardens made of up indigenous succulents and shrubs, set in front of the military-run clinic, came with a price tag of R30 000.

Rehabilitation of surrounding land disturbed during construction of the homestead cost almost R2,5 million.

Attempts to contact Bonelena Construction and Moneymine CC were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

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