Nkandla veggie packhouse not for Zumas

A vegetable packing warehouse built near President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home was for the benefit of the community, the KwaZulu-Natal department of co-operative governance said on Sunday.

"There is no gold, no coal there. Agriculture is one of strongest drivers of economic development [in the province]," spokesman Lennox Mabaso said.

"It is not for the benefit of one family [the Zumas]."

The Sunday Times reported that the department had built a vegetable packhouse for a women's co-operative started by Zuma's wife, Sizakele MaKhumalo Zuma, in 2010.

Mabaso said MaKhumalo was involved in agricultural causes in the community, but denied that her political connection was the reason for the packhouse, one of many in the province, being built.

"There is a model we apply that we follow in all those projects."

The potential for job creation and economic opportunities through farming in KwaZulu-Natal made it a key sector for development.

Mabaso said it appeared that some media latched on to any development near Nkandla, as the recent controversy surrounding security upgrades to Zuma's house made this newsworthy.

"There is a fishing expedition to make everything that is happening in Nkandla about one family, even if it has no link... It is wrong, the people of Nkandla have become outcasts."

"We have many [vegetable packhouses] that we have opened, we invited the same newspapers to them and they never came. Just the fact that this one is at Nkandla, this [is an] attempt to continue with the narrative..."

Mabaso could not immediately give the cost of the packing warehouse, but said the department would issue a statement about it in the next week.

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