On Life, love and Politics

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Jacob Zuma’s £5.3m home expansion prompts outcry December 6, 2009

Filed under: Politics/Politique,Society/Societe — kikenileda @ 12:40 AM

  • jacob zuma

African president Jacob Zuma with his three wives, Sizakele Khumalo,
right, Nompumelo Ntuli, far left, and Thobeka Mabhija, second from
left. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/AFP/Getty Images

Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, has prompted anger with a reported R65m (£5.3m) expansion of his personal residence in one of the country's poorest regions.

rural homestead will gain a police station, helipad, military clinic,
visitors' centre, parking lot for 40 vehicles and three houses,
according to South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, which claimed taxpayers would foot "the largest chunk of the bill".

houses are apparently being built to accommodate Zuma's three wives,
the paper said. Critics accused the president of "conspicuous
consumption in the face of dire poverty".

The rural family
homestead is in Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province, where many of
Zuma's neighbours lack electricity or running water. Official figures
show that more than half of KwaZulu-Natal's 10 million population live
in poverty, with 1.2 million surviving on less than R200 (£16) a month.
Sources told the paper that the expansion will cost an estimated R65m.

is common in rural KwaZulu and Zuma is no exception. His residence has
a house for his first wife, Sizakele Khumalo. More are reportedly being
built to accommodate his other wives, Nompumelelo Ntuli and Thobeka
Mabhija. The houses will have thatched roofs and contain his-and-hers
bathrooms, walk-in closets and a study. One will contain four bedrooms;
the smaller will have three.

The costly transformation was
criticised as insensitive a day after Zuma warned that more jobs could
be lost because of a recession that has put nearly a million out of
work. William Gumede, a political author, said: "A massive house in
South Africa costs R10m, so why spend R65m? … It's conspicuous
consumption in the face of dire poverty."

The South African
presidency said no government funding would be used for Zuma's
household, but the state would be responsible for the adjacent
developments. "We … reject any insinuation that there could be any
untoward abuse of state resources by the president or his family," it


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