12 February 2014

South Africa: Close Encounters of the Nkandla Kind - a Journey to the President's Heartland


On an as-yet-unnamed road, heading westwards about 36km after the former colonial village of Eshowe in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, you may or may not pass a sign on the left (these periodically disappear due to accidents and other unforeseen circumstances) that indicates the burial place of Zulu King Cetshwayo.

If you carried on for another 40km you would arrive at the small town of Nkandla. If you were hoping to see President Jacob Zuma's controversial maximum-security private estate somewhere along the route, you'd be disappointed. He doesn't live there. By MARIANNE THAMM.

So, let's begin by orientating ourselves. Home to President Jacob Zuma and his extended family is at Nxamaxala in the magnificent Thukela valley on the eastern border of the Nkandla municipality (a municipal ward won by the IPF in a 2013 by-election); population 114,416 with 22,000 households, 65% of them headed by women (according to Census 2011), if you really want to know.

Why almost everyone now refers to the president's home as being at located at Nkandla might have more to do with the difficulty some in the media have pronouncing Nxamaxala, or perhaps the incorrect reporting of the location is simply due to geographic expediency.

Personally encountering the ...

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