One of SA’s most obvious housing problems confronts everyone who gets off a plane in Cape Town; the N2 squatter camp that had defied attempts to be reconstituted. No one was particularly surprised that the housing project designed to get rid of this blight has been a disaster. But some sleuthing by The Mail & Guardian suggests new problems. One of President Jacob Zuma’s closest confidants, John Duarte, is now seeking to buy for himself the company involved in the N2 Gateway housing project – a company he currently runs. Duarte, husband of former ANC election spokesman Jessie Duarte, is currently the chief operating officer in President Jacob Zuma’s office, a job you might suspect would keep him quite busy. A fortnight ago the Mail & Guardian revealed that housing director general Itumeleng Kotsoane had guaranteed R241.5-million in March to shut down the technically insolvent government housing agent Thubelisha, the managers of the disastrous N2 Gateway housing project in Cape Town. Thubelisha’s acting chief executive is Duarte, who is proposing that his private company take over state projects in which Thubelisha had invested funds, the newspaper reports. This week also saw the release of the department’s annual report for 2008/2009, in which the auditor general criticises it for lending R100-million to Thubelisha without complying with the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act. Duarte denies wrongdoing and says Sisulu’s closure plan for Thubelisha allowed for a private company to be formed by the agency’s staff.