Controversial €18m upgrades to Zuma home criticised

Leader of South Africa’s opposition party says upgrades far exceed security requirement

President Jacob Zuma: the public protector said in a report last year that Mr Zuma had unduly benefited from the security upgrades which included a swimming pool, visitors’ centre, chicken run and cattle enclosure

President Jacob Zuma: the public protector said in a report last year that Mr Zuma had unduly benefited from the security upgrades which included a swimming pool, visitors’ centre, chicken run and cattle enclosure

 

The leader of South Africa’s opposition party, Democratic Alliance, has said the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s rural home far exceed the minimum requirement to secure the residence, following an official parliamentary visit to the estate.

Mmusi Maimane was part of an ad hoc committee tasked with inspecting the construction work done, including the controversial security upgrades, to the home in KwaZulu Natal province, which cost more than €17.8 million.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela said in a report last year that Mr Zuma had unduly benefited from the security upgrades to the property, which included a swimming pool, visitors’ centre, chicken run and cattle enclosure.

As a result she recommended he pay a reasonable portion of the non-security related costs back to the taxpayer. But a later investigation by police minister Nathi Nhleko dismissed the recommendation, saying the work done was necessary to ensure his security.

Ahead of the visit Mr Maimane said the main opposition party, which pulled out of the ad hoc committee’s review of the police minister’s report, needed to participate in yesterday’s inspection in order to refute Mr Nhleko’s “unconstitutional” findings if the matter went to court.

After the inspection Mr Maimane said: “Our visit made it clear that the scope of the project was never to secure the president’s private residence but to upgrade it to the status of a presidential residence at a grossly inflated cost.

‘Unjustifiable’

The committee chairman, the African National Congress’s Cedric Frolick, concurred the cost of the project was too high. “What I’ve seen there today is not worth the 200 million [rand] plus that is claimed to be spent and the people responsible for that must be held accountable,” he said.

Mr Frolick conceded the pool constructed as a “fire pool” to tackle the outbreak of a blaze looked for all intents and purposes a “recreational facility”. “What we saw in front of us is a pool . . . a pool is a pool,” he told journalists, who were not allowed see the facility.

A cluster of 21 houses built for security personnel at a cost of €10 million were also visited by committee members.