, JOHANNESBURG, Nov 7 – South Africa’s state broadcaster SABC has ordered its journalists not to refer to President Jacob Zuma’s controversial state-renovated residence as a “homestead” or as “Zumaville.”
In a missive to staff, seen by AFP on Wednesday, SABC news boss Jimi Matthews said the compound at Nkandla, which has been refurbished at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $29 million, should be described as the “Nkandla residence.”
“Your (sic) are hereby notified that, with immediate effect, President Zuma’s Nkandla home should be referred to as the President’s, or Mr Zuma’s, ‘Nkandla residence’ and not a ‘compound’ or ‘homestead’ or any other such term,” Matthews wrote.
“Please also refrain from using imported terminology in reporting on the controversy surrounding the infrastructure developments around the residence, such as ‘Nkandlagate’, ‘Zumaville’ and such like.”
Zuma has been lambasted for the costly and allegedly extensive renovations to the sprawling compound in his home state of KwaZulu-Natal.
According to media reports, the upgrades include underground bunkers, a helipad, a clinic and a tarred road leading to the village.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for a parliamentary debate on the upgrade, condemning it as corrupt, and has accused Zuma of abusing his position of power for personal gain.
Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday said it would not support “the flurry of frivolous requests” for a debate by lawmakers and said the party should await the outcome of probes into the matter.
“It is unfortunate that the DA’s interpretation and understanding of parliamentary debates seem to be inspired by a desire for grandstanding and politicking,” the office of the chief whip said.
Zuma has commented only to say that the costs were related to security.
An SABC spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.