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Nxesi defends Nkandla upgrade

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi believes the Nkandla upgrade is justified but won’t reveal costs.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi (R). Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on Friday said President Jacob Zuma is exempt from the provisions of the Ministerial Handbook by virtue of his status.

He spoke about the upgrade to Zuma's private home in Nkandla, believed to have cost taxpayers more than R200-million.

Nxesi suggested the fact that Nkandla is a private residence was for a consideration when budgeting for the upgrade.

"There's no way that you can classify the president's place, whether private or official, like any other residence."

He further disregarded provisions in the Ministerial Handbook and elevated Zuma as being above the provisions.

"The Ministerial Handbook is just one little piece, but if you're talking about the head of state, you're talking about something far beyond that."

Nxesi said the defence and National Key Points Acts prevents him from disclosing costs of the upgrade.

The Democratic Alliance has called for an inquiry into the Nkandla upgrade.

The party says it plans to ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the expenditure around Zuma's homestead.

Meanwhile, there is an estimated R2 million town project being built near Zuma's home.

Some have criticised Zuma for prioritising Nkandla while ignoring other rural areas.

Zuma has denied this saying he is committed to rural development throughout the country.