Surprise! Zumaville is a no-show, but we still paid for it
The former president's dream of building a town on the doorstep of Nkandla has remained just that
Former president Jacob Zuma’s dream of building a massive town on the doorstep of his Nkandla compound appears to be up in smoke – with millions of taxpayer rands wasted.
The R2bn project is a shambles with only a R16m IT centre having been built since “Zumaville”, as it was dubbed, was first mooted about halfway through Zuma’s first term in office.
Times Select has established that:
Despite an environmental impact assessment having been completed last year, the Rural Development and Land Reform department, which is overseeing the project, does not know how much it will cost;
No developers have been appointed;
The two-year lease agreement signed with the Ingonyama Trust for the land has lapsed;
The Treasury has washed its hands of the development and says it last heard about it in 2014;
The KZN government has made no commitment to the project;
The IFP-controlled Nkandla municipality, which is opposed to the development, was last consulted about five years ago; and
The architects involved in the planning town are no longer involved, despite having designed mock-ups.
Zumaville was touted as the first fully fledged post-apartheid town – and it would have been built 3.2km from Zuma’s controversial R246m homestead in Nxamalala village. It was slated as being 200ha in size.The project was initiated by the controversial rural Masibambisane Development Initiative – co-chaired by Zuma and his cousin, Sibusiso “Deebo” Mzobe – during Zuma’s first term as president.
But six years and millions of rands already wasted after it was first mooted, very little progress has been made.
The architects who designed the town were Johannesburg-based Mashabane Rose Associates, and Kombani Consulting, who were embroiled in a legal battle over unpaid fees. Phil Mashabane, a director at Mashabane Rose, confirmed that his firm was no longer part of the project and that Kombani Consultants had “since disappeared from the business landscape”.Rural Development spokesperson Linda Page said the environmental impact assessment, conceptual proposal and land scheme use for the town, officially known as the Umlalazi-Nkandla Smart Growth Centre, was completed in December last year.
She said the site already had a traditional court, a satellite police station, a clinic and the R16m IT centre. The rural town will be centred around existing government facilities such as the R12.8m Mamba One Stop Development Centre and the R14.2m Lindela Thusong Service Centre.
But the department does not know how much the planned town will cost, haven’t appointed a developer, and the master plan which was developed has been overtaken by other developments, such as RDP housing in Nxamalala.Also, Times Select has established that a two-year lease agreement which was proposed between the department and the Ingonyama Trust, under whose land the town would be built, never materialised due to the time elapsed.Page said: “The Umlalazi-Nkandla Smart Growth Centre project was always going to be a multi-phased project. It involves two local municipalities, one district municipality and the Ingonyama Trust Board. Therefore consultation takes longer.”
But Ingonyama Trust Board chairman Judge Jerome Ngwenya said it was a legal requirement for a development that prior written consent from the relevant traditional council first be obtained. He said they had no record of this for Zumaville.Page said the project was now reliant on the KZN provincial government and the local municipalities – Umlalazi and Nkandla – to get underway. However she said there has been no commitment from the KZN government to the project, and that the department last consulted with the IFP-controlled Nkandla Municipality about five years ago.KZN premier’s office spokesperson Thami Ngidi didn’t respond to queries about the project.
The Treasury told Times Select they were last involved in the project in 2014.An initial feasibility study made mention of educational facilities valued at R179m, agricultural and industrial facilities at R146m, a commercial facility at R68m, environmental facilities at R46m, a government complex at R69m, and housing at R136m.
Nkandla mayor Thami Ntuli – under whose municipality the development would fall – said they had not been informed about the proposed project.
“No one has spoken to us about how this project is going to benefit the people of Nkandla. If we had been informed the matter would have been tabled before council for discussion”
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