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‘I sold my Zuma name for R10m house’

President Jacob Zuma with his brother Michael. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU.

President Jacob Zuma with his brother Michael. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU.

Published Nov 17, 2013

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President Jacob Zuma’s brother Michael has admitted he used the Zuma name to secure government contracts and expected to be paid with a R10 million house.

Michael Zuma told M-Net’s investigative programme Carte Blanche he allowed his name and political connections to be used by Khumbula Property Services to win a contract to build RDP houses. In return, the property company would build him a R10m homestead adjacent to Jacob Zuma’s controversial Nklandla compound.

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The shocking revelations were broadcast on Carte Blanche and in an interview on the John Robbie Show on Talk Radio 702 on Monday morning.

Zuma confessed that at the time he was working for the company and was promised a homestead instead of cash if he convinced Free State Premier Ace Magashule to give the company the contract.

The company, owned by Thabo Ntshiqa and established in 2001, has been awarded R1bn in government contracts despite allegedly failing to deliver on several earlier contracts.

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Zuma said the promised homestead had never been completed. While he refused to comment to the Sunday Tribune, Ayanda Kweyama, an architectural draftsman in Nelspruit who designed the homestead, was willing to talk. Kweyama was never paid for his plans and sees himself as a victim of Khumbula.

Kweyama says when Nkandla was being upgraded in 2010, Michael Zuma planned to rebuild the family’s original home on a plot nearby.

“This is where the whole family is originally from, that’s where they lived. He told me that is where their father’s grave is situated and he wanted to rebuild their family home and redesign the existing homes to match President Jacob Zuma’s home.”

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Kweyama said he was first approached by Michael Zuma’s son, whose name is known to the Sunday Tribune, in 2010.

“He told me that there was construction in Nkandla and that I should submit designs.”

Kweyama said Zuma asked for a smaller version of his brother’s home. “He asked me for seven rondavels and two modern-design main houses. The rondavels would have thatched roof finishes, two bedrooms, a lounge and bathroom. The main houses would have five bedrooms each and four parking garages but they would be very modern in design. He also asked me for an entertainment lapa and a gatehouse.”

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Kweyama’s Acespace Property Designs submitted the designs to Thabo Ntshiqa of Khumbula Property Services, which was to construct the buildings.

“The project manager and I approached Thabo and told him we need to go to tender so that we could get correct pricing for the project, but he refused. He instead appointed a contractor who was already working on the Nkandla upgrade. He said he was doing this to avoid site establishment fees.”

When Ntshiqa failed to pay the contractor, Kweyama suspected something was amiss. “Initially when I submitted the designs to Ntshiqa’s company, the preliminary calculations amounted to R15m for the entire project. The calculations took into consideration that we had to build a new road, and the landscaping. But Ntshiqa and his team took away some of the features and came up with R10m and dropped the original amount. We could see these guys were playing us.”

Construction on what would be Michael Zuma’s R10m Nkandla homestead began on November 10, 2010. “We began the site clearance and started the construction. By the end of November we submitted our first invoices because we were supposed to get paid. But we didn’t.”

Kweyama charged Khumbula Property Services R1 030 000. “They didn’t want to pay me the amount that they initially agreed to pay me. They sent me their own calculations and said they could only pay me R758 000, so we agreed.”

Kweyama was asked to resubmit invoices but was not paid and Khumbula stopped all communications with him.

In June 2011, he asked for a meeting with Ntshiqa. Arriving at his Sandton offices, “he refused to speak to me. They then asked me to submit the invoices again and promised to pay me in a month later”. Subsequent efforts to be paid failed.

Michael Zuma told him the people had left and he did not know where they were, he said.

He still has not been paid, “and Michael Zuma will never have his R10m home”.

Michael Zuma agreed to an interview but later refused to meet or answer questions by phone.

Spokesman for Magashule, Oupa Khoabane, said: “There is no way that the premier could get involved in the award of a specific tender. The department allocates the houses and then they appoint the companies if they meet all the criteria for the project. The process was fair and Khumbula met the requirements. We only found out later that their CIDB grading certificate was fraudulently acquired.”

Ntshiqa could not be reached for comment.

- Sunday Tribune

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