Controversy surrounds the revamping of South African President Jacob Zuma’s rural homestead in Kwa-Zulu Natal province. Allegations from opposition parties and activists are that R203 million in taxpayers’ money will be used to revamp the Nkandla homestead
The revamped house would contain 10 air conditioned rooms, underground living quarters, a clinic for Zuma and his family, 10 houses for security personnel, a helipad, houses for air force and police units, underground parking, playgrounds and visitors centres, as reported by City Press recently.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the public protector to probe the project, which it describes as “a serious abuse of taxpayers’ money by (the public works) department which is failing in almost every other key responsibility”.
The DA’s outrage came after a report in the City Press stated Zuma would only be footing 5% of the bill, which amounts to around R10,6 million.
The article below makes a comparison of the residences of other presidents elsewhere with what Zuma is trying to achieve with his homestead.
Barack Obama hasn’t spent much time at all at his town house in Chicago, residing primarily at the White House or on holiday in Hawaii. His predecessor, George W Bush, on the other hand, was famous for the time he spent at his Texas ranch. On working visits, everyone had to be accommodated. The president and his wife stayed in the four-bedroom main house while aides stayed in a five-bedroom trailer or “the governor’s house”, a cottage the Bushes used before the main house was built. The many foreign dignitaries who visited stayed in a two-bedroom guest quarters, adjacent to the main house. Helicopters could land on the property and an aircraft hangar was built to house the president’s chopper just outside the ranch.
The Bushes weren’t short on money and built the ranch themselves after George W Bush became president. But hosting the extra staff and security personnel no doubt cost the taxpayer. Figures on what the state might have spent on security upgrades are elusive, but features such as “real-time secure video-conferencing” to communicate with the CIA were installed.
President Zuma may have excessive needs, but at least his style leans towards the traditional. The mansion of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe seems rather palatial in comparison. His family residence in the wealthy Harare suburb of Borrowdale Brooke is said to have 25 rooms and is tucked away on the hillside.
The area around the house is deemed a protected zone, with police guarding the property and posted along the winding stretch of road that leads to it. When building started in the early 2000s some residents were worried their land would be taken, and the Mugabes have recently refused to let a church be built on a plot eight stands away because the congregation and its noise could compromise Mugabe’s safety.
When the president was cornered in an interview with SkyNews, he denied the mansion was built off the profits of corruption. The builders were Yugoslav, with Zanu PF footing the bill. The tiles and roofing supplies came from the Chinese and the timber came from a former Malaysian prime minister. The Malaysian government strenuously denied donating building materials to Mugabe.
President Viktor Yanukovych must have gotten used to living in a palace. In a murky series of events, the Ukrainian president acquired one of the country’s most stunning properties. The 140-hectare Mezhyhirya Monastery has sat on the bank of the Dnieper River for almost 700 years. After a 10-year tussle for the main house, Yanukovych became president and took a prime slice of the land for himself, apparently without paying a cent.
During Ukraine’s time as part of the Soviet Union much of the property was destroyed. The government set about building a five-metre steel wall for Yanukovych and secured the perimeter with police guards. It didn’t stop there. Rumour has it the developments cost tens of millions of dollars and the property now features a helipad, bowling alley, shooting range and a zoo. The president reportedly had two kangaroos, but one escaped while the other died of pneumonia. In August, a journalist snuck into the compound and saw a golf course, lakes and a house made of gold, marble and redwood. — news24/Daily Maverick.