Johannesburg - Road development in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, is not taking place because it is the home of President Jacob Zuma, the presidency said on Thursday. "The presidency rejects the ongoing campaign of linking every development around Nkandla village to the person of President Jacob Zuma," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
The Mercury newspaper reported on Wednesday that a 32.4km stretch of road, the P15, linking Zuma's village in KwaNxamalala to Kranskop, had been built at a cost of R290m.
A 54.4km road, the P50, linking Eshowe with the village and the town of Nkandla had cost R292m, it was reported.
The presidency rejected the link made between the roads and Zuma.
"It is mischievous and inaccurate to insinuate that the road was constructed because of favouritism as the president lives there."
Maharaj said Nkandla was one of 23 districts identified by the government for intervention because of deep levels of poverty, which had been "scientifically established through investigation".
The road construction and infrastructure development was started as early as 2003 by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, he said.
The then provincial transport MEC Sbusiso Ndebele launched the African Renaissance Roads Upgrading Programme.
Maharaj said Ndebele had "singled out for attention several major rural areas".
These included an 80km project valued at R208m in Nkandla, and roads in Nongoma, Mtubatuba through Hlabisa and Nongoma, to Vryheid and Pongola. It also included the Kranskop to Eshowe road.
"Specifically, the construction of road P15 linking Kranskop, Nkandla and Eshowe, which was launched this week, started in August 2006."
This road provided a shorter link from Pietermaritzburg to Eshowe and Nkandla, and access to eight local schools, the Ntunjambili Hospital and three local clinics, Maharaj said.
He said the upgrading of Zuma's residence in Nkandla began "long before" he became president in 2009.
"It was a family decision and the family started the extensions out of their own pockets.
"It was only after he became president that security, medical and other considerations had to be attended to, as explained by the Minister of Public Works, Mr Thulas Nxesi, on behalf of government."
The Zuma family would continue to pay for upgrades in Nkandla which were not linked to state security, Maharaj said.
City Press reported that R203m of taxpayers' money would be spent on the Nkandla upgrade, and that Zuma was paying only five percent of the bill -- around R10m.