Pretoria: The Presidency has rejected the on-going campaign of linking every development around Nkandla village to President Jacob Zuma.
This comes amid media reports this week on a road construction project launched by the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department, which reportedly cost R582 million, and has been linked to Zuma.
“Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal is one of 23 districts identified by government for interventions due to deep levels of poverty, scientifically established through investigation. It is mischievous and inaccurate to insinuate that the road was constructed because of favouritism as the President lives there,” the Presidency said.
It said the road construction and infrastructure development referred to was part of a programme that was started as early as 2003 by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government. The then KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC Sibusiso Ndebele had unveiled the popular African Renaissance Roads Upgrading Programme to “spend more than a billion rand on roads, roads and more roads”.
In 2003, Ndebele singled out for attention several major rural areas, including an 80km project valued at R208 million in Nkandla as well as roads in Nongoma, Mtubatuba through Hlabisa and Nongoma to Vryheid and Pongola; Ongoye KwaBulawayo Project; Kranskop to Eshowe; Highflats – St Faiths – Port Shepstone; Osizweni and many others which the KZN transport department committed to upgrade “from gravel to blacktop surface”.
“Specifically, the construction of road P15 linking Kranskop, Nkandla and eShowe which was launched this week, started in August 2006,” said the Presidency.
The developmental road served as a major feeder to the communities and facilities. It provides a shorter link from Pietermaritzburg to eShowe and Nkandla as well as access to eight local schools, the Ntunjambili Hospital and three local clinics.
In recent weeks, the media has been reporting on the upgrading of the President’s residence in Nkandla, questioning the costs associated with the projects.
“President Zuma wishes to point out that the upgrading of his residence began long before 2009 when he was inaugurated as President of the Republic of South Africa. It was a family decision and the family started the extensions out of their own pockets.
“It was only after he became President that security, medical and other considerations had to be attended to, as explained by the Minister of Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi on behalf of government,” said the Presidency.
The Zuma family would continue to pay for all the upgrades in Nkandla which were not linked to state security imperatives.
“It is really disappointing that every development in Nkandla is attributed to the President… we will continue working in every province to improve the quality of life and to change the landscape of rural areas,” a statement quoted the president as saying.