Zumaville will displace some families

Both chiefs are members of the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative, which is chaired by the president. It is the driving force behind the construction of South Africa's first town since 1994, known as the Umlalazi-Nkandla Smart Growth, but dubbed "Zumaville" because of its close proximity to the president's R60-million compound.

Both chiefs will have the task of relocating and compensating families whose homes fall within Zumaville. Shange, whose land will accommodate the largest portion of Zumaville, said some people would have to be "relocated and compensated". However, the question of who would have final ownership of the land had "not yet been finalised".

Inkosi Zuma, President Jacob Zuma's nephew, did not respond to several requests for comment.

Zumaville will be shared by the Nkandla and Umlalazi local municipalities, although the municipal demarcation board is expected to redefine boundaries by next year.

The roads surrounding Zumaville have been under ­construction for nearly a decade in line with the African renaissance road upgrading programme, a KwaZulu-Natal transport department initiative. The programme is described on its website as a method to "ensure the circulation of vast amounts of money in the local rural economy". It focuses on using emerging contractors.

One contractor called the road an "embarrassment", pointing out the poorly compacted surface. "[It] will need to be redone and the contractor has just finished," he told the Mail & Guardian this week.

There are still no visible signs of bush clearance or land preparation taking place, activities that were originally anticipated to start in July.

With tight deadlines to have the town's construction under way by 2014, the province's agricultural department has granted a waiver – apparently at Masibambisane's request – for the need for a full scoping and environmental impact assessment.  

Bianca McKelvey, a conservation manager at the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA, believes the development includes at least one "activity that triggers a full EIA". But, she said, the National Environmental Management Act allowed an applicant to apply to downscale the method of environmental assessment.

The focus of Zumaville, if and when it gets built, will be on jobs. Only 5.65% of the population in the area claim to have full-time employment and, according to a uThungulu district municipality review document from last year, "70% of rural income [in Nkandla] is from social grants and remittances".

Gamalaka Biyela (38), who has been "living from one temporary job to the next", said he wasn't "bothered that much" by the price of Zuma's home, but hoped "each family in the area can get a house like the president".

Zumaville: Send us your questions

The M&G's Verashni Pillay will put your tweets, comments and questions about Zumaville to Phillip De Wet in a live streaming video chat on Friday August 10 between 11.30am and noon.

Go here to submit your questions OR vote on an existing question. 

We'll look at your questions and comments posted throughout this week, as well as input posted on our various platforms during the live discussion.

Watch mg.co.za for the live chat on Friday at 11:30.

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