Zumaville 'mayor' chasing investors

2012-08-12 20:15

Johannesburg - The unofficial mayor of “Zumaville” admits that he lobbies government departments “hard” for money.

But he’s no bully, says Deebo Mzobe of himself as deputy chairperson of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative.

Masibambisane is in the limelight over a R2bn project on the doorstep of President Jacob Zuma’s homestead at Nxamalala, Nkandla, dubbed Zumaville.

The project has attracted criticism in the past two weeks from Zuma’s opponents, who accuse him of using a private initiative, funded mainly by government departments, to develop his hometown and win support ahead of the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Mzobe, who has managed to stay out of the limelight, agreed to be interviewed by City Press last week.

“I’m always trying to stay behind the scenes, in the background, avoiding you guys,” says Mzobe, 40.

The overalls and wellies seem a million miles away as Mzobe, all designer jacket and shirt, whipcord pants and pointy biscuit-coloured BEE shoes, traces the history of Masibambisane.


“We lobby hard, yes. What is wrong with making sure somebody keeps their promise? We lobby business [Patrice Motsepe and Old Mutual are among Masibambisane’s benefactors] as well. That is what we do.”

A distant relative of Zuma’s [the president’s mother is also Mzobe], Mzobe started off selling wood in Eshowe before moving to Durban and getting involved in “a lot of things” and eventually entering the construction industry, “which feeds my children”.

Like the head of state, Mzobe believes in polygamy and plans to marry his three fiancées next year.

Something of an ideas man whose history nobody in KwaZulu-Natal political circles seems to know much about, Mzobe can also talk for hours without giving anything away – another trait he shares with Zuma, whom he says “has me working 24 hours” to get development projects off the ground.

Masibambisane (loosely translated as “working together”) is a non-profit organisation founded in Nkandla by Mzobe, Zuma and traditional and community leaders to lobby government and business and channel development funding into the community.

Zumaville, its latest brainchild, has sparked fresh controversy.

The Masibambisane model, Mzobe says, comes from his own family experience, based on the Zulu tradition of ilimo, where community members pitch in and put together resources to build, plant, weed or harvest, eventually servicing every homestead.

Although Mzobe lives in Mbongolwane (which falls under Umlalazi) Zuma heard about what he was doing, liked it and wanted to know more.

Mzobe says that after explaining the model, Zuma asked him to present to nine amakhosi (chiefs) at Nkandla who already were part of a development forum and replicate the model.

Private sector

“We have been pushing development, getting funding, lobbying government departments. We will get funding from the private sector for tractors, government will put something in and amakhosi put in land on behalf of communities.

“This way we can produce food for people and animal feed from the byproducts. People can have food and make some money if we [go through the] process.”

Mzobe says he was asked by the department of agriculture to give a presentation on the model, which was accepted and which government wants to roll out elsewhere.

“Rural communities hear about this and they want it. I am all over the place – Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga – being asked to assist and accommodate people. This is hard work. It costs me business as I don’t have the time to deal with my own business interests,” he says.

Zumaville, he says, came from the realisation that locals were spending the little money they had up to 50km away – at Eshowe, Melmoth or Kranskop – and that services needed to be consolidated and improved.

“We started talking about this and got funding for a consultant to assist with a plan and a feasibility study. We took the plan to rural development and they liked it.

"We’re now chasing investors. We need to make sure that the project is kept busy, that there is activity to sustain it,” Mzobe says.

  • allenttrading - 2012-08-12 12:06

    We need lots of Mzobes out there. Halala to the Pres for discovering this man and thanks to those who support this noble idea.\r\nMasibambane maAfrika.

      phillip.harry.79 - 2012-08-12 20:45

      ...are you guy's related or something?

      sean.carbutt - 2012-08-13 08:08

      There is only one song that springs to mind for you lot. Black Eyed Peas - Lets Get Retarded

      francois.smith.7 - 2012-08-13 09:22

      Let us stop investing in Old Mutual.

      harold.parsons.37 - 2012-08-13 09:45

      Yes I am shocked that old mutual is in on this scam. I pay large management fees every month to watch it go to schemes like this. I need to find a way out of Old mutual investments They are bleeding me dry to finance these ANC thugs

      alf.pop - 2012-08-13 10:29

      Did your mom drop you on your head when you were a baby?

  • allenttrading - 2012-08-12 12:06

    We need lots of Mzobes out there. Halala to the Pres for discovering this man and thanks to those who support this noble idea.\r\nMasibambane maAfrika.

      magomarele - 2012-08-12 21:19


  • phillip.harry.79 - 2012-08-12 20:44

    ...Nice suit DWeebo!

  • lownabester - 2012-08-12 20:46


  • marthinus.oosthuizen.7 - 2012-08-12 20:48

    Jip, in this case we the taxpayer will take over pay the bill.

  • busani.mabunda - 2012-08-12 21:14

    take your project Zumaville and stick it up your corrupt a***s

  • Vince.York - 2012-08-12 21:15

    How far back in time does this push all the myriad other "keen" developmental ideas and promises back? Is this a feasible development at that predicted value, or is it pie in the sky additional ANC theft of public funds redistributed to connected cadres and tribal taxfund devourers? Could such a massive scheme be longterm sustainable on it's own without massive continual input from state sources - thereby weakening other more needy projects? Will this merely plummet to the seabed like the R8Bill submarines of the infamous arms deal have? distinct feeling is that value should be reduced to 10% of the quoted values bandied around in the press, or less! Let the private investors carry the ball and the ensuing customers make it pay in the long run NOT THE TAX PAYERS.

  • johnathon.masters - 2012-08-12 21:17

    The public must stop this project dead in its tracks. The country has hundreds of crucial issues to be sorted out before this wet dream of a delusional, incompetent, corrupt, megalomaniac of a President, set on leaving a white elephant legacy to his home kraal. Typical African mentality – Build grand airports ( King Shaka Airport ) opulent palaces, magnificent civil buildings, wanting Boeing 777 chariots of the gods, while the citizens of the country are starving , uneducated, dying of disease, and unemployed.

      Nqabeni Thabede - 2012-08-13 05:46

      remember some of them are un educated by your doings sir

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-08-13 14:50

      Actually Tinkertank it isn't only Africans that build big monstrosoties, the Russians and the South Americans have also done their bit.

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-08-12 21:35

    Chase those investors boet, chase them.

  • louis.hager.12 - 2012-08-12 21:40

    Money well spent, AGAIN!

  • Derrick Chong - 2012-08-12 22:19

    Welcome to the Comedy Club !!!

  • Derrick Chong - 2012-08-12 22:34

    This joker is gonna marry all 3 fiance's 1 time an all next year. Wow, this fool is waiting for the big pay day ! Welcome to the comedy club in KZN !

  • elvis.nkoana - 2012-08-12 23:35

    Good initiative. Keep it up!

  • jaysonpaul.beckwith - 2012-08-13 04:41

    Reading this article. I couldn't stop thinking about the evil pint size side kick, Mini me in the movie, the spy who shaged me. I can just see him running behind zuma in fancy little suit. And don't forget the pinky finger to the corner of the mouth,,,,one million dollars!!!!

  • Graham - 2012-08-13 06:02

    Old mutual share holders should be concerned!

  • mzukisijola.jose1 - 2012-08-13 06:22

    Oh! These people are just good lies R2bn,one of them wake up in his house there is a big long security wall,who build the wall nobody know ,welcome to animal farm

  • Elizabeth Venter - 2012-08-13 07:13

    unemployment, corruption, crime and nepotism rife! education going downhill... completely incompetent government departments and hospitals... people dying of starvation, diseases... homeless, cold children and citizens of SA lying on the streets. but hell, lets decolonize museums, lets change street names, lets nationalize private (competent) hospitals, lets but luxury planes for our pathetic government, cause you know, thats what our country needs right now dont you think?

  • nigel.vanysendyk - 2012-08-13 08:16

    anything to get votes, even if it means spending more on a few hundred houses than the country spends guaranteeing our food security & creating jobs. Next will be food hampers & t-shirts.

  • tikoloshe.hogana - 2012-08-13 08:48

    if people there travel more than 50km to nearest town. they deserve it. other areas on same situation must also get this project. we cannot all afford to live in town. take towns to the poor and rural. VIVA

  • maokeng.mankge - 2012-08-13 09:50

    These is crazee mines are closed instead of taking dat money and invest it than developing nothing.How many projects are with held due funds what makes dis one special to d people of S.A or Nkandla..Dis project is useless wena small spear

  • bullardx - 2012-08-13 12:12

    "Mzobe believes in polygamy and plans to marry his three fiancées "... wtf??? thats my onli comment to:p

  • bullardx - 2012-08-13 12:15

    so if im guessin right, Jacobs Jet deal doesnt go as planned, so his plan "b" to spend R2bn on a Zumaville.... regardlesss of other issues that money could solve in more than 1 lil city. gosh mr jacob your mindset is embarrassing not to s.a but us black.

  • maokeng.mankge - 2012-08-13 13:46

    There are no investors you chasing live our money lyk you liars..We need to get rid of Zuma before its too late

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-08-13 14:47

    Lord, is it too much to ask to have a break from all this stupidity? Zumaville already has a Mayor?. What next a landing strip for planes?

      dave.rigby.16 - 2012-10-08 20:03

      Don't give them ideas Jacqui - just now there will be planes landing at Nkandla.

  • dumisani.nation - 2012-08-14 12:21

    ...and mpumalanga remains the only province without a university.well zumaville is a good initiative for the people of inkandla and wil surely benefit them. If only the president would put more effort on building a university in mpumalanga then we wouldnt go against zumaville.

      nkululeko.gcwensa - 2012-08-26 20:20

      The Minister of High Education recently announced that government will build a University in Mpumalanga that will start operating in 2014.

  • florence.clarke.92 - 2012-10-21 16:40

    Old Mutual??? I cannot believe it. Stop investing

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