South African Presidency on Sunday denied reports that the Department of Public Works plans to renovate President Jacob Zuma’s private home.
This was in response to a report by the Sunday Times newspaper that the Department of Public Works plans to renovate certain aspects of the president’s private residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province.The report said the government is gearing up to lavish more taxpayer funds on Zuma’s controversial Nkandla homestead, which has already been upgraded at a cost to the country of 246 million rand (about 18 million U.S. dollars).
The news comes just before 10 public works officials are to face disciplinary hearings this week, arising from reported irregularities when the homestead was first upgraded in a blaze of negative publicity more than two years ago. “The Presidency has noted with concern a report in the Sunday Times newspaper about alleged plans by the Department of Public Works to renovate certain aspects of the President’s Nkandla residence,” presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.
The Presidency wishes to confirm and emphasize that there are no renovations of the private houses at Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla currently and no government department has indicated any proposal for renovations, Ngqulunga said. “We also wish to underscore that no government department, including the Department of Public Works, will be permitted to renovate any of the President’s private houses in Nkandla,” he said.
But the Sunday Times alleged that the Department of Public Works this week confirmed a new round of work was in the offing.The report quoted the department as saying processes were under way to refurbish the property — in some cases significantly — to repair shoddy workmanship and, once again, to address security concerns.
This shows that the government is undeterred by the public outcry and a finding by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) that Zuma had failed to uphold the constitution when it came to the money spent on his private home, the paper said. The ConCourt ruled in March 2016 that Zuma flouted the Constitution for allowing the abuse of public funds in security upgrades at his private home.
The court also ordered that Zuma must repay for the upgrades.A report release in March 2014 by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela claims that Zuma’s family unduly benefited from the Nkandla project. But Zuma has denied the allegations.