The government is planning a new R2-billion town in President Jacob Zuma's home village of Nkandla and taxpayers will have to pick up half the tab, the Mail & Guardian reported on Friday.
Initial estimates were that the government would have to direct more than R1-billion of taxpayers' money into the development.
Another R1-billion would be needed from the private sector to make the project viable.
It was the brainchild of Masibambisane, a rural development organisation Zuma chairs, which the Democratic Alliance has described as a “hand-out scheme used by Zuma to curry favour”.
But the department of rural development and land reform had taken up the project with apparent enthusiasm.
In July, expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema accused him of building a “New York City of KwaZulu-Natal” in Nkandla.
So the “Zumaville” plans could plague the ANC leader as politicking as the party heats up in the run-up to the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December.
But Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, described the criticism as “reckless” and “without basis in fact”.
“Rural development is one of the priorities of the government and is not restricted to one area,” he was quoted as saying.
The construction would transform what is a dusty backwater with basic government buildings scattered among isolated rural homesteads into tree-lined avenues and covered walkways connecting modern, architect-designed buildings, the newspaper said.
Last year, Zuma came under fire for a multi-million rand upgrade to his homestead, which apparently included underground living quarters.
The IFP accused the president of giving Nkandla preferential treatment in government's rural development programme. - Sapa