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Sat Jul 04 21:02:02 SAST 2015

Nkandla splurge giving taxpayers sleepless nights

The Times Editorial | 08 October, 2012 00:30

The Times Editorial: The news that the upgrading of President Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla has soared to R238-million from the R6.4-million estimated two years ago deserves every bit of the outrage now being expressed.

There is, however, nothing new about the president's behaviour and his complete disregard for modest living. Not too long ago, when he married his fourth wife, there was much censure about the lavishness of the ceremonies - in spite of his office's insistence that he would carry the costs himself.

Then there was the acquisition of new presidential jets in June. According to reports, the 300-seat Boeing would have cost about R2-billion. Included in that deal was a $28-million Global Express 600 for the deputy president's use.

Though the order was cancelled, the intention was certainly there, with the implication that the aircraft was an utter necessity for Zuma's safety and comfort.

Now there is the matter of his traditional home. The refurbishment has caused much resentment because the cost will largely be carried by taxpayers.

Where is Zuma's sense of decorum, particularly in the context of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan saying that he will have to cut his 2.7% growth forecast for the year when he delivers his interim budget on October 24.

How does the president of a country wracked by strikes for R12500 wages, service delivery protests and massive material inequalities live comfortably with such vanity projects?

At the ANC's policy conference in June, Zuma said the nation's problems kept him awake.

"I have paid visits to a number of areas where you can't believe that you are in South Africa. Why should I see that, as the president of the country, not even of the ANC, and think that I could sleep peacefully when I know there are people who live in things you can't even describe as a house?"

Clearly the president has overcome his trouble-induced insomnia.


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