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Probe over ‘wrong information’ about Zuma’s residences

2011-10-21 13:39 The public works department is probing why “wrong information” was provided to Parliament about renovations to President Jacob Zuma’s official residence in Pretoria.

Acting director-general Mandla Mabuza said in a statement today that he found it “very absurd and ridiculous that some journalist published a grossly and factually inaccurate report” on the refurbishment of Zuma’s residences.

“I wish to put it on record that there is no refurbishment that will cost the tax payers R170 million," he said. “This is utter nonsense. I have immediately instructed that an investigation be undertaken to understand the circumstances that led to this wrong information given to Parliament. I have demanded answers in 48 hours.”

Yesterday, Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde said the planned renovations were cancelled in March this year.

Earlier, The Star reported that revamping the interior of Zuma’s official residence in Pretoria was expected to cost R170 million.

This had emerged on Wednesday in written replies by Mahlangu-Nkabinde to parliamentary questions by the DA. The refurbishment would include a sauna and a steam room.

The total value of the refurbishment, building and other work already carried out on Zuma’s offices, official homes in Cape Town and Pretoria, and projects on the Bryntirion ministerial estate, amounted to more than R400 million.

However, in her statement, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said: “No work has been undertaken, no taxpayer money has been spent.

“In March this year, when I learned about the proposed cost of the refurbishment, I said it was too high and ordered that it not go ahead,” she said.

This was a matter of public record because she had issued a statement on March 22 in which she said the proposed cost was too high and that no work was being undertaken.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde said it was not clear how the cancelled proposal was sent to the DA.