Zuma’s staying power (and office) is costing taxpayers millions

By Carien Du Plessis 20 October 2011

President Jacob Zuma doesn’t come cheap. Apart from having an entourage of wives who enjoy state-funded privileges, his living arrangements have cost the taxpayers millions. The latest revelation is that almost R400 million has been spent on renovating his and his ministers’ official residences. CARIEN DU PLESSIS reports.

It’s taken a long time for DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip to get the answer out of public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, but almost eight months after posing the written parliamentary question, she at last told him that an estimated R398 million (less than the DA had anticipated) is to be spent on the renovation of official homes of President Jacob Zuma and his executive.
The breakdown is as follows:

Genadendal residence, Cape Town: R13.5 million

  • Tuynhuys office, Cape Town: R24.4 million, and furniture: R778,000;
  • Bryntirion Estate (ministers’ residences in Pretoria): R192 million (including a R42 million fence and R55 million road); and
  • Mahlamba Ndlopfu residence, Pretoria: R168 million (includes IT and security upgrades, and construction of sauna/steam room, but old furniture to be retained).

True to DA tradition, Trollip calculated how much this would cost in RDP houses (7,000) and said this showed just how “disconnected” Zuma was from the needs of the South African people.

“At a time when millions of South Africans face rising unemployment, a lack of basic services and poor quality housing, the President has seen fit to reward himself with a series of renovations to his lavish residences.”

Trollip said the Presidency has in the past tried to shift the responsibility for the expenditure to Public Works, but since Zuma himself was using these homes, he should account for their “significant price tags”.

Trollip has requested a further explanation from Mahlangu-Nkabinde, and will also grill Zuma next time he’s in Parliament.
On the personal front, Zuma has been substantially expanding his Nkandla homestead, a large chunk of which is funded by the taxpayer.

At a reported R65 million, Nkandla’s upgrade seems positively modest compared to the renovations to his official residences.

With all these fancy houses, Zuma is clearly hoping to be in power for quite a few years to come. DM



Photo: Reuters

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