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Johannesburg - About four in five young South Africans feel the money spent on President Jacob Zuma's private home can be put to better use, according to a survey released on Monday.
“The vast majority (84 percent) thought the money should rather be put towards solving major problems in South Africa,” said consumer insights company Pondering Panda, which did the study.
“Six percent felt that as the president, Zuma knew best what to do with taxpayers' money,” researchers said.
Another five percent felt that as president, Zuma deserved a better home, and a further five percent could not decide.
Pondering Panda questioned 3477 young South Africans between the ages of 15 and 34.
Butch Rice of Pondering Panda said the research company gathered its information through cellphones and text which enabled a quick response.
“Questions are sent to respondents' cellphones through social networking platform, Mxit, and they just respond,” said Rice.
“You get a quick response on the cellphone and people are going to tell us what they think.”
It takes a maximum of three minutes to reply to the questions.
On Friday, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the upgrades at Zuma's residences were similar to those of former presidents.
He declined to disclose how much money had been spent on security and other construction work at Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
So far, high security fences had been erected, roads in the area had been upgraded, and local fire fighting services had been developed for the helipads.
Reports have estimated the cost of the work to be between R203 million and R238 million.
According to the survey, a higher proportion of women (88 percent) felt the money should be spent on solving problems in the country compared to 80 percent of men.
About 53 percent of the respondents were aware of the cost to taxpayers for the Nkandla improvements.
Fifty-nine percent of 25-34 year olds were aware of Zuma's plans, compared to 49 percent of 18 to 24 year olds and 46 percent of 15-17 year olds.
Based on the results, Rice said: “An overwhelming majority of young South Africans feel that the expenditure of taxpayers' money on Zuma's house is wrong.
“This is the worst possible time for unwarranted expenses to be incurred. Coming at a time of widespread labour unrest, it will magnify the negative perception that many young South Africans have of our country and the way it is governed,” he said.
Rice said Zuma had little support among the youth and the Nkandla upgrades were likely to further diminish the support that remained.
“It can only have negative consequences for the ANC,” he said. - Sapa