President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla has been in the spotlight for expensive upgrades for years, now it has been confirmed the official presidential residence in Durban will require repairs.
The national Public Works Department has dispatched a team to assess the damage caused by storms to the residence, John Dube House, designated for use by Zuma and his deputy.
This comes after the Presidency announced on Wednesday that John Dube House had been declared temporarily unfit for human habitation because of damage caused by recent floods.
The house is a landmark in Durban and has been used for high-profile events.
In 2011, Zuma welcomed Prince Albert II of Monaco and his bride, Princess Charlene, at John Dube House.
A year later, he celebrated his 70th birthday there with a family dinner.
The residence, together with other presidential residences such as Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria, is one of the country’s national key points.
“The Department of Public Works… is exploring alternative accommodation until the residence has been renovated,” Zuma’s spokesman Bongani Majola said.
Public Works Department spokesman Thami Mchunu said on Thursday that the house was declared unfit last week. He did not explain the nature of the damage.
“The assessment of the damage caused is being done by a team. There are processes that are being followed in assessing the damage,” Mchunu said in reference to procurement processes.
He said once the assessment was completed, contractors would be appointed to do the repairs.
“Obviously, there will be a process to be followed on who will fix the damage.”
Mchunu said that since the assessment was still under way, he could not say when repairs would be completed.
“The assessment is on the go. The team will issue a report when it is done and then we will know the time frames to be followed.”
When the Daily News visited the house on Thursday, the photographer, who was taking photographs from the street, was stopped by the police guarding the house.
He was taken into the premises where he was questioned and later allowed to go.
The photographer’s observations were that there were two broken windows at the front entrance of the main building and a damaged turret.
The presidential residence was formerly known as King’s House. In 2012 it was renamed after the founding president of the ANC, John Langalibalele Dube, in a ceremony at which Zuma officiated.
The Edwardian-style presidential residence has been the residence of several South African presidents and many visiting heads of states.
The house has undergone several renovations over the past few years.
In 2014, it was reported that there was a gaping hole in the 4m-high, multimillion-rand security fence erected in 2009 to beef up security around the house.
The fence was part of an installation that apparently cost taxpayers R50 million.
One of the many panels in the fence came loose and collapsed beside a clump of bamboo trees.
The special fence, set some metres away from a much lower exterior fence, was deemed necessary for Zuma’s safety.
In 2009, it was reported that taps, sinks, showers and basins costing more than R900 000 were imported for the house.
King’s House was built in 1904 to accommodate the chief justice of Natal at a cost of R370 000. It was first refurbished in the 1990s.[Source: Daily News]