Wrong details on S.Africa's Zuma house lavish revamp
South African officials have backtracked on a slammed lavish upgrade of President Jacob Zuma's official residence, saying the wrong details were supplied to parliament, reports said Friday.
"I wish to put it on record that there is no refurbishment that will cost the tax payers money 170 million rand to refurbish the President's residence," said Department of Public Works acting head Mandla Mabuza, Sapa news agency reported.
"This is utter nonsense. I have immediately instructed that investigation be undertaken to understand the circumstances that led to this wrong information given to Parliament. I have demanded answers in 48 hours."
The ministry in a parliamentary reply this week said nearly 169 million rands ($21 million, 15 million euros) was costed for the interior of Zuma's official Pretoria residence as part of almost 400 million rands of presidential upgrades.
The renovations were attacked by the main opposition Democratic Alliance as "exorbitant expenditure", while details of the house's new look, which included a new sauna and work on the swimming pool, were splashed in the local press.
"No work has been undertaken, no taxpayers' money has been spent," said Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, The Cape Times quoted her as saying.
The minister had called off the refurbishment in March over the high costs, she said.
The residence was set for an upgrade but the contracts and starting date had not been finalised.
The other upgrades were to Zuma's offices and residences in Cape Town and the the presidential and cabinet Pretoria estate.
According to the latest government figures, published in August 2010, 21.5 percent of the population live in shanty towns in the Gauteng region around Pretoria.
Eighteen percent of South Africans live without electricity and 10 percent without running water.
© 2011 AFP