JOHANNESBURG — New security fences. A medical clinic. Firefighting services added for a helipad. That and other upgrades, all for South African President Jacob Zuma’s home to the tune of more than $23 million in taxpayer money.
Zuma is embroiled in a controversy over the costly additions to his private home in a country where millions still lack decent homes, running water, electrical power, and adequate access to health and education services.
The disclosure of the renovation of Zuma’s rural compound, dubbed ‘‘Zumaville’’ in the local press, in KwaZulu-Natal comes before the ruling African National Congress’s December conference where Zuma seeks to be reappointed as the party’s leader, and therefore its candidate for president in the 2014 national election.
Zuma’s standing has already been shaken by the recent police killings of 34 striking platinum miners in the continuing wave of wildcat strikes. He is widely seen by striking miners as aloof to their concerns that they are not paid enough for the difficult and dangerous work they perform.