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20 October 2011 at 08:39 - Posted by Anonymous

R170m Zuma home revamp


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Mahlamba Ndlopfu, President Jacob Zuma's official residence in Pretoria. Photo: Adrian de Kock

Revamping the interior of Mahlamba Ndlopfu, President Jacob Zuma’s official residence in Pretoria, is expected to cost nearly R170 million – yet none of the furniture will be replaced.

This is according to Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, who also revealed that the president will be getting a sauna and steam room.

The total value of refurbishment, building and other work – either already carried out or planned for Zuma’s offices and official homes in Cape Town and Pretoria, as well as projects on the Bryntirion ministerial estate where Mahlamba Ndlopfu is located – amounts to more than R400 million.

Details of the spending emerged on Wednesday in written replies by Mahlangu-Nkabinde to parliamentary questions asked in March and April by DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip.

He is now writing to the minister for a full explanation why the spending “was deemed an appropriate use of state funds”.

“I will also be submitting an oral question to the president, so he can account to Parliament and the South African people for this vast expenditure.”

Presidency spokeswoman Zanele Mngadi said none of the work had been ordered by Zuma himself.

“No, the president never gets involved in renovations,” she said.

“The Department of Public Works is responsible for managing government property, and procurement in terms of their policy.”

Trollip said this was disingenuous.

“These are homes intended for the president’s use, and the president must account for their significant price tags,” he said.

According to the National Treasury’s Estimates of National Expenditure for 2011, refurbishing of Mahlamba Ndlopfu was to start in April, last for 15 months and cost R191m, with R86m allocated for the 2011/12 financial year.

It said the project entailed upgrading infrastructure such as bulk water, electrical services and roads on the Bryntirion estate.

Replying to Trollip’s request for a breakdown of the R191m price tag, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said: “The cost for interior refurbishment is estimated at R168 762 018.

“No new or additional furniture will be procured. The current furniture will be retained.”

Her reply detailed other renovations, including “attention to the swimming pool”, building changing facilities and a “sauna/steam room”, upgrading security measures, “including escape routes”, a new electronic surveillance system, perimeter fence, improved access control and installing a fire detection system, intercom and “danger warning” PA system.

Included was restoring wooden doors, windows, cupboards, ceilings and floors “to the original form as per the South African Heritage Resource Agency”, and restoration work on balcony and stairway balustrades, fireplaces and chandeliers.

Other work involved building screens between the main house and visitors’ entrance, non-slip paving for paths and roads “in consideration of disabled persons”, new visitors’ gates and lighting for walkways and driveways.

An “energy saving plan” involved solar water heating, a “lighting application” and the kitchen switching to LPG gas only. However, this needed new gas cylinder storage to be built to comply with regulations.

Items listed under “information technology network” included fitting a server room “to address heating, ventilation and cooling”, network points to Zuma’s study and “every room necessary” and “data for telephones”.

In Cape Town, just under R40m had been spent over the past three years on renovations at Zuma’s official residence, Genadendal, on the Groote Schuur estate, and at his office at Tuynhuys, in the parliamentary precinct.

At Genadendal the price tag was R13.5m, while the office revamp – which included renovating the offices of Zuma’s support staff – came to R24.4m. A total of R778 000 was spent on furniture.

“Interior design was planned and executed by the department,” the minister said.

In Pretoria, a “professional team” carried out a “condition survey” at Bryntirion Estate, the minister revealed in a third reply.

The team had produced a “master plan” for proposed upgrades, including improved security measures .

Cost estimates for these included R55m for a road; a fence at R42m; “Gate 1, 2 & dog unit” (R25.7m); electrical reticulation (R22m); outer boundary fence (R19.7m); generator room and substation (R15m); and, “Gate 1,2,4 & 5” (R13.2m).

Public Works’ spending on buildings and other fixed structures increased from R488m in 2007/08 to R1.4bn in 2010/11 at an annual average rate of 41.3 percent.

This was mainly because of increased spending for ports of entry, but also for “additional funding for prestige management for the accommodation of additional ministers and deputy ministers resulting from the expansion of cabinet in 2009”, according to the Estimates of National Expenditure for 2011.

* Public Works spokesman Thamsanqa Mchunu was not immediately able to respond to detailed queries related to the expenditure.

The department’s acting director-general, Mandla Mabuza, could not be reached for comment. - Political Bureau

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