A shock report by the Sunday Times reveals that yet another building project in KwaZulu-Natal has been heading for huge overspending, and would have cost taxpayers as much as R1 billion if allowed to continue.
The initial cost, according to a forensic report, was meant to be R225 million, but the acting director-general in the department of arts and culture has presented the report with the prediction that it would cost R1 billion if allowed to continue “at the current scope and costs”, according to the paper.
As happened at President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, prices appear to have been inflated across the board and consultants have allegedly charged double what they normally would.
R129 million had already been approved for the project’s first phase, but there is apparently not much to show for this spending, which is meant to improve King Goodwill Zwelethini’s reed-dance venue at his lavish palace, where thousands of Zulu maidens gather each year to attempt to impress him by dancing topless.
A forensic report seen by the paper allegedly even includes intentions to import soil to replace the “poor soil” at the venue.
The king is allegedly insisting that work should go ahead despite the Zulu royal house expressing “shock at the bill”, and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa reportedly told him that work will indeed continue once investigations are complete.
The king reportedly said he was against corruption, but he wanted the work to continue as soon as possible.
Mthethwa had appointed Gobodo Forensic & Investigative Accounting to probe “allegations of wrongdoing”, and the project is now on hold.
In 2013, the king requested “accommodation, bathing facilities and toilets for thousands of women who attend the annual reed-dance ceremony at the king’s palace” each year, and who have reportedly been sexually harassed due to the current unsafe conditions that lead them to bathing in the open and sleeping “on buses and taxis”.
However, when the Sunday Times visited the site this week, they report that there was “not much to show for the more than R130 million that has already been spent”.
The forensic report recommended criminal charges against the department’s former director-general and other senior managers. The arts and culture and trade and industry departments had not provided comment to the paper in time to make publication.