London: South African President Jacob Zuma has sparked outrage after he spent 17.5 million pounds to upgrade his rural family home.
South Africa is a nation racked by poverty, where 13 million people survive on less than one pound a day, and two million have no access to a toilet.
Yet as his people struggle in squalor, Zuma spent millions to upgrade his rural family home.
According to the Daily Mail, the costly upgrade to Zuma’s once-humble home in the village of Nkandla includes Astroturf sports fields and tennis courts, a gymnasium and state-of-the art security systems, including fingerprint-controlled access pads, the report said.
When African journalists revealed the astronomical cost of the work, Zuma’s ministers turned on the whistle-blowers, saying that revealing the details of ‘top secret’ documents was illegal.
Originally the cost of the project, which began two years ago, was put at 500,000 pounds, but it has since skyrocketed.
According to the report, Zuma has named his residence a ‘national key point’, a status invented by the previous paranoid apartheid government, which means it is entitled to security measures ‘in the interests of the nation’.
Last week he was grilled in parliament about what he and his family were costing the nation, and struggled to answer, protesting that he was unaware of the scale of the work.
“All the buildings and every room we use in that residence were built by ourselves as family and not by the government,” he protested.
“He did not know the amount spent on bunkers, claiming: ‘I don’t know the figures; that’s not my job,’” he added.
Britain is committed to spending an average of 19?million pounds a year in aid on South Africa until 2015, mainly aimed at reducing HIV, the report added.