Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Nkandla: What’s in the name of a country estate?

Visiting the homes of the Zuma family, the metaphorical aspects of the isiZululanguage that the president holds so dear are evident in their names.

A few hundred metres from KwaDakwadunuse – better known as Nkandla, the collection of squat, cream-coloured rondavels clucking around the much larger patriarchal edifice of Zuma's main house that has been in the news for apparent security upgrades totalling R248-million – is another collection of more modern buildings called Mpindamshaye, according to locals.

Mpindamshaye means "I will beat you up again" in isiZulu and appears to be the second "family" homestead, referred to by the president in Parliament last week.

Nklandlagate: The impact on Mangaung and beyond

This is where upgrades by the "extended family" were done first and when that "had reached the finishing-touches stage, we started with the one where I stay [KwaDakwadunuse]", said Zuma last Thursday in Cape Town.

"The other one does not appear on television because there are no security features on it," the president told Parliament in his oral reply to a question by the Democratic Alliance's Lindiwe Mazibuko. "That is where, in fact, we started upgrading. We started at our residence called Mpindamshaye."

Read more…

Profligate and presidential

Reddy an unapologetic benefactor

Documents call Zuma's bluff

Zuma said his extended family had "a manner of working together".

A collection of light-grey buildings with a more modern feel, it is, according to locals, used by the president's younger brother, Joseph, and his gargantuan nephew, Khulubuse.

The locals were unable to comment on whether the behaviour of the inhabitants – "Khula", especially, with his unpaid Aurora miners on starvation row – had contributed to the name.

KwaDakwadunuse means "when you are drunk you are misbehaving", a bugbear, perhaps, for a teetotal president with a deeply social conservative streak and a penchant for chastising people for being "culturally" and personally disrespectful.

Another Zuma home, according to a 2009 news report, is called KwaThembitshe, which means "while a stone remains unchanged, a person will surprise you". This is something Zuma has managed for most his life, whether as an underground activist or as head of the "stone that grinds" (Mbokhodo, the ANC's internal intelligence arm), or as president of South Africa.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Niren Tolsi
Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist whose interests include social justice, citizen mobilisation and state violence, protest, the Constitution and Constitutional Court, football and Test cricket.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Basic web lessons for South Africa: Government hacks point to...

Recent cyberattacks at the department of justice and the space agency highlight the extent of our naïveté

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

More top stories

Almost two million voters register for local elections

Young people make use of online portal and women account for more than half of the total registered

Free State regions cry foul after dissolution by interim provincial...

Regional ANC leaders have asked Duarte to intervene after the interim provincial committee resolved to dissolve their branches ahead of local government elections

ANC unlikely to replace Joburg mayor Matongo before 1 Nov

A party source said the ANC in Johannesburg would most likely call on one of the mayoral committee members to stand in as mayor until the local elections

Ramaphosa hits the right notes as he urges Cosatu to...

Cosatu meets to deliberate on its support for the governing party in the upcoming local government elections

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…