New security fences. A medical clinic. Fire-fighting services added for a helipad. Plus other upgrades, all for South African President Jacob Zuma’s home to the tune of more than US$23 million in taxpayer money.
And all for his rural private residence.
Zuma is embroiled in a controversy over the costly additions to his private home in a country where millions still lack decent homes, running water, electrical power and adequate access to health and education services.
The revelations of the renovation of Zuma’s rural compound, dubbed “Zumaville” in the local press, in KwaZulu-Natal come before the ruling African National Congress’ 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 are 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. Local reports say the upgrades cost about 200 million rand (US$23.18 million).
Zuma said at a breakfast meeting on Thursday 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.
High security fences have been erected, roads upgraded, a medical clinic added and fire-fighting services developed for the helipad at the compound, according to the South African Press Association.
Some critics say the ANC party that was once led by anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is overly focused on political power with too little attention being accorded to the country’s black poor.
Zuma’s presidency has been “marked by political problems, most notably a radical decline in the ANC’s credibility. Zuma’s own actions have also stripped the office he holds of dignity,” Pallo Jordan, a former minister of arts and culture, wrote in an article published in BusinessDay newspaper. “Whoever the ANC membership elects in December will have to grasp the nettle of restoring the ANC’s dented credibility and dignity to the office of the president.”
Shadrack Gutto, a professor of African studies at the University of South Africa, said ordinary South Africans have come to expect little good from the ANC, whose top bosses have become fabulously wealthy even as millions of South Africans are mired in poverty.
“Every day there is a scandal here, a scandal there,” Gutto said, adding that a time will come when the party will be thrown into “the dustbin of history.”
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday