Outrage is growing in South Africa over the $30 million renovation bill for president Jacob Zuma's private retirement home, known as Zumaville.

Renovations for the multi-resident estate, complete with football fields, a theatre and an underground bunker, dwarf all public spending for previous presidents' homes.

The City Press's Adrian Basson, who started digging into the cost of renovating Mr Zuma's retirement home, says he could not believe the numbers.

"[Firstly], Zuma is not retired - he is still a sitting president," Mr Basson said.

"And secondly he has access to at least three very well furnished, recently upgraded state official houses in Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban where he and his family can stay."

Almost 20 years after the end of apartheid, Mr Zuma's retirement estate has become a symbol of the widening inequality in South Africa.

Almost fifty per cent of people in his rural area, near Nkandla in Zululand, have no jobs. Many live without electricity or running water.

The state has worked hard to keep renovation costs and the estate hidden from view, having the rural retirement estate added to a list considered sensitive to national security.

Under South African legislation it is illegal to film places of national security, but this usually refers to airports.

Political activist Dr Mamphela Ramphele, who is about to launch her own party, says fighting corruption will top her agenda.

"What cost to South Africa is corruption, both monetarily and psychologically?" Dr Ramphele said.

"Corruption is theft of public resources and if effects poor people disproportionately.

"It's a large amount of money in a country where we have got schools that are still being run out of mud structures, we've got schools that haven't got toilets."

Nqabutho Ndlovu lives across the road from Jacob Zuma, and he says he has given up on finding a job but still hopes that one day he would have electricity in his home.

"I have hope, but I do not know what one has to do to be on the map," Ndlovu said.

"Even if I take my home that side to be on the map. I do not know when we will be on the map and how."

Three separate inquiries are underway into how so much money could be spent on the retirement home.

 

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