Are African leaders really that senseless? From North, to South, to East to West, the story is almost the same of political leaders squandering and lavishing state funds on themselves. In recent weeks, South Africa has seen strikes, police killings of protesters, and continued anger over government spending while much of the continent suffers from poverty.
Yet during these troubled times, South African President Jacob Zuma has chosen to lavish £16million on an upgrade to his private home – all paid for by the taxpayer.
The home will have new security fences, a helipad and an on-site clinic in a country where millions still lack decent homes, running water and electricity.
The revelations of the renovation of Zuma’s rural compound, dubbed ‘Zumaville’, in KwaZulu-Natal come before the ruling African National Congress’s December conference where Zuma seeks to be reappointed as the party’s leader, and therefore its candidate for president in the 2014 national election.
Zuma’s standing has already been shaken by the recent police killings of 34 striking platinum miners in the continuing wave of ongoing wildcat strikes.
He is widely seen by striking miners as aloof to their concerns that they’re not paid enough for the difficult and dangerous work they perform.
Firebrand politician Julius Malema, ousted this year as ANC Youth League leader, says Zuma should not be allowed another term in office.
The government has refused to disclose the precise cost of the work on Zuma’s countryside home, but local reports say the upgrades cost about £16million.
Zuma said at a breakfast meeting that he does not know how much the work will cost, that it was authorized by the Ministry of Works and was motivated by security concerns.
Zuma, 70, remains popular in his Zulu homeland and many say he will win another term as ANC chief.