The two billion Rand project, the proposed building of South Africa’s first post-democracy, completely black-built town, formally known as the, “Umlalazi-Nkandla, Smart Growth Centre,” will be comprehensively probed by Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela.
The project, just three kilometers from President Jacob Zuma’s controversial Nkandla homestead, has been nicknamed, “Zumaville”. The Public Protector was initially hesitant to probe the project, stating that her office did not have the capacity to investigate the matters. However, lobby group, AfriForum, lodged a complaint with Madonsela in August 2012 and after a preliminary investigation, it was decided that a formal report would occur.
The proposed plans for what is going to be South Africa’s first post-Apartheid town have been justified by President Zuma, because they will create industry and jobs. Much labour will also be required to build the 200 hectare city.
The projected cost for the city is estimated at two billion Rand, of which half will come from taxpayers’ money and the other half from private investors. The private investors have not yet been named.
The project is a collaboration between the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and Masibambisane, a rural development organisation, of which Jacob Zuma is a chairperson. Masibambisane is also said to have proposed the idea for the project, initially.
AfriForum lodged a complaint with the public protector due to the fact that the President will personally benefit from the project. “The President sits on three chairs. He is the head of the executive government, chairperson of the government’s partner in this case and, as a citizen with personal interests in Nkandla, he is also a beneficiary,” said Ernst Roets, deputy executive head of AfriForum.
The project has also seen opposition from the Democratic Alliance, in the form of Lindiwe Mazibuko, the DA’s previous leader in parlaiment. “This is cronyism and nepotism of the worst kind. While the DA supports all efforts to support rural development, it must be done in an open, equitable way, with public money spent wisely,” she stated.
Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, stated that her office’s preliminary report had concluded within the last two weeks and that a full investigation would now occur.
Currently, the ANC-led government is preparing a legal case against Madonsela’s previous Nkandla report, titled, “Secure in Comfort”, which finds the President and his family guilty of unduly benefiting from upgrades to his homestead, to the value of R246m. The Public Protector claims that she remains confident that the matter will end comfortably in favour of her office in court.