Zuma wife's R2.6 million Nkandla vegetable co-op facility gathers dust.

The packhouse, about 500m from the president's R246-million Nkandla residence, was built by the KwaZulu-Natal department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs for the Qedisimo Sendlala Co-operative.

Qedisimo Sendlala (putting an end to hunger) was started by MaKhumalo in 2010 to help women in the poverty-stricken KwaNxamalala village to produce their own food. The co-op is made up of 15 women from the president's village.
A multimillion-rand vegetable packhouse built for a women's co-operative run by President Jacob Zuma's wife Sizakele MaKhumalo Zuma is an empty shell more than three months after construction was completed.
The Sunday Times has established that despite funding to the tune of R2.5-million, the packhouse is not functional and has not been equipped with a refrigerated cold storage facility to store fresh produce.

Electricity, which is critical for equipment, refrigeration and lighting, has not been installed, and water has not been connected.

A source who has seen the inside of the packhouse said it was still an empty building.

"There is just nothing inside. The cold storage facility for vegetables has not been built. Water and electricity have not been connected yet," said the source.

Qedisimo chairwoman Zimnyama Gcaba confirmed that electricity and water had not yet been connected to the packhouse. She said members of the co-op were excited about the construction of the packhouse because this would "benefit co-operatives greatly", but she did not know when it would be officially opened.

"Our vegetables were rotting and we made a request to the department to build us a packhouse, but I don't know when it would be opened as there is still no water and electricity."

The co-operative plants cabbages, carrots, spinach, green pepper and butternut.

According to the Nkandla municipality's integrated development plan for 2012-17, Qedisimo was given R2.5-million by the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs for the year 2012-13.

The construction of the packhouse, which has an administrative office and ablution facilities, began late in 2013 and was completed late last year.

But there is no activity taking place there at the moment.

Zuma wife's R2.6 million Nkandla vegetable co-op facility gathers dust.
The provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs has denied that the packhouse (above) was built for MaKhumalo's women's co-operative, saying it was meant to benefit all women in the village.

But a tender issued in November 2012 indicated that it was built for Qedisimo.

Despite the information from the tender, department spokesman Lennox Mabaso accused the Sunday Times of "demonising" the project because it was built at Zuma's village.

Mabaso said applications to build a packhouse in KwaNxamalala came from the Nkandla municipality specifically on behalf of the community.

"The municipality was allocated the funding and it became the implementing agent.

"However, there have been challenges in the Nkandla municipality that have also contributed to some of the delays in the packhouse becoming operational.

"We have been engaging the municipality to make sure that the project becomes operational," he said.

He said the department's responsibility was to fund the building of a structure, but it was the responsibility of the municipality to deal with the operational side of the project.

He said the department had allocated R2.5-million for the packhouse.

Nkandla municipality spokesman Mgcobeni Khanyile could not be reached for comment.

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