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Agriculture minister denies Zumaville donation

Sapa

The agriculture department has no plans to donate R800-million to the Nkandla development project, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. (Gallo)

Responding to a barrage of questions from members of Parliament's portfolio committee on agriculture, forestry and fisheries on Tuesday, Joemat-Pettersson took aim at opposition parties and the media. 

"There is no R800-million that was allocated, no R100-million allocated, so if certain political parties like the Democratic Alliance and the media want to run agriculture ... and we will not allow our agenda to be set by the DA and media," she said.

Joemat-Pettersson's attack came after MPs from across the political spectrum asked her to clarify whether her department would be prioritising funds for President Jacob Zuma's homestead at the expense of other poor, rural areas in the country.

"Tell us how much money you prioritised to favour the interest of the president at the expense of the general public of South Africa?" Congress of the People MP Nqaba Bhanga asked.

Joemat-Pettersson and her officials described any inference of donations from her department to the Nkandla development project as "rumours devoid of truth".

Acting director general Sipho Ntombela expressed frustration at the questions, and said the department had tried to kill stories of the donation, but could not. "I appeal to this committee to help us bury this story, which is obviously a lie, but is living and kicking out there," said Ntombela.

Chief financial officer Jacob Hlatshwayo said he had not approved any spending on Nkandla.

In August, the City Press newspaper quoted what it called an official document from government as stating Joemat-Pettersson would be contributing R800m to the Nkandla project, which has been called Zumaville. – Sapa

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