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Zuma makes space for China's Xi in Nkandla

Matthew Burbidge

The M&G can reveal that China's relationship with its smaller Brics cousin has just become a lot more cosy, with a rural residence for its president.

China's President Xi Jinping with President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

Diplomatic sources, who were not authorised to comment officially, told the Mail & Guardian that China's President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma sealed a new bilateral deal on the sidelines of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) summit in Durban last week.

The deal provides for the aggressive enlargement of Zuma's rural homestead in Nkandla and will include a new residence for Xi, his family, and entourage.

The deal is apparently being kept under wraps. The Nkandlagate scandal came to light after a string of reports revealed that over R200-million would be forked out for infrastructural improvements at the president's private residence at Nxamalala in rural Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

The M&G has previously reported that there would be a clinic, as well as a helipad, medical clinic, bulletproof glazing and air-conditioning in certain residential units as well as a bunker at Nkandla. The upgrade is currently the subject of an investigation by public protector Thuli Madonsela, although a public works department report on alleged abuse of public funds during the upgrades found no signs of wrongdoing.

The plans for the expansion – which the M&G has seen – include a tea house and small tea estate, which is likely to thrive, given the area's high rainfall and fertile soil. The plans also provide for a small Chinese take-away.

Comment from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation was not immediately forthcoming.

Zuma, a prominent tea drinker, has often been seen sipping Rooibos and honey, said to be his favourite drink. It is not known whether Xi enjoys tea.


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