Sunday, July 12, 2009

Outcry over Zuma's presidential home

Zuma flies commercial then he goes and blows wads of dough on a house he will only see for a few days each year.


Bullet-proof electric fences, motion and smoke sensors, watch dogs and police on quad bikes are just some of the multi-million rand security measures being put in place in an upmarket Durban suburb for President Jacob Zuma - within walking distance of his friend and erstwhile financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

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King's House, in Morningside Durban, is a stately 106-year-old house that was once used by the governors of the colony of Natal and governors-general of the Union of South Africa. It now form
s part of the Department of Public Works prestige accommodation for the country's head of state.

It is one of three official residences for the president in the country, after Genadendal in Cape Town and Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria.

Nelson Mandela rarely used it as president, spending much of his time in Cape Town, while Thabo Mbeki preferred Pretoria.

King's House had become so run down due to lack of refurbishment over the last 30 years that moves were afoot by the government to sell it off.

Now, at least R50 million is being spent on a 4-m high metal inner fence, 10.7m away from the exterior fence and will be topped with razor wire, according to a senior construction worker on site.

The total cost for the massive security upgrades is unknown, although Director-General of Public Works Manye Moroka has said that R230 million had been set aside for rehabilitation of state buildings over a three-year period.

Workers on site at the palatial house say that the corridor created by the outer and inner fences will be a ring of light created by a series of arc lights about 15m circling the 5.26-hectare property.

A network of motion sensor laser beams, smoke sensors as well as cameras will be positioned in the corridor.

New guardhouses are being buil
t at all three entrances to the property.

But while some neighbours believe the measures are "complete overkill", the acting Director General of the Department of Public Works, Solly Malebye, said they were necessary for the president's safety, even though there was no indication of how often the house would be used.

The DA has criticised the expenditure on the security, asking whether Zuma had any shame in light of the current economic situation.

Dianne Kohler-Barnard, DA spokeswoman for safety and security, said: "I have no doubt that when the full cost of security at King's House, aimed at protecting a single VIP for a handful of days annually, comes to light, it will infuriate taxpayers who can no longer afford, or never could afford, private security firms, and are in fact losing their homes to this global recession.

"What a time to spend another fortune on the president. Has he no shame?"

The upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of September.

King's House is situated not just in the same suburb as Schabir Shaik's multi-million rand home, but just down the road from one of the "Durban addresses" which Shaik tried to buy before his controversial release on parole last year on medical grounds.

Shaik tried to buy the five-bedroom house on a 2 000m² plot on Eastbourne Road a week before he was released from hospital just before this year's general election.

1 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

What he shorts now is a load of medals on his chest and a bronze statue of himself.