Nkandla architect contravened council rules

The regulator won't censure Minenhle Makhanya for designing a library while in arrears, unless someone complains.

The regulator won't censure Minenhle Makhanya for designing a library while in arrears, unless someone complains.

The architect who was paid R16.5-million by the state for his work on President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home has continued to work on a R14.5-million public library, despite being suspended by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession.

As with Nkandla, Minenhle Makhanya is the principal agent and architect on the Maphumulo public library project, which was commissioned by the department of arts, culture, sports and recreation in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Makhanya could not be reached for comment, but industry sources said the library has been under construction for more than a year and is just weeks away from completion. 

The Mail & Guardian was reliably informed by industry sources that Makhanya had continued to work on the Maphumulo library while suspended by the regulatory body, from August last year until this week, for nonpayment of its annual subscription fee. The library is situated 35km inland from Stanger.

The spokesperson for the South African Council for the Architectural Profession, Pappie Maja, said that Makhanya had, however, paid his fees on Wednesday.

"Actually, yesterday he contacted me and paid his fees. I spoke to him personally, and he has sent proof of payment," Maja said on Thursday.
"Everything is up to date."

No questions asked
Maja said that the council does not ask architects why they have not paid their fees. "The only thing we have to do is let them know there is an outstanding balance, so they know that they are not in good standing and that they cannot practise," he said.

It would be a problem if Makhanya had continued to work while suspended, said Maja. "Once you don't pay, you are in arrears. Then we suspend you, and that means you should not practise until you have paid."

Maja said he had not been aware that Makhanya had been practising as an architect while suspended by the council. "We are going to overlook whatever has happened, unless someone comes to us and lays a complaint against him," said Maja.

"But as a council we assume that, since he has been noncompliant with us, he hasn't been practising."

Mluleki Mutungwa, the spokesperson for Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, KwaZulu-Natal's MEC for arts, culture, sports and recreation, said he was not aware that Makhanya had worked as an architect on the Maphumulo library project.

This was after the M&G was informed by industry sources that, unlike at Nkandla, Makhanya had had his "wings constantly clipped" by government officials working with him on the library project. 

The project has apparently been delivered within budget.

Variations allowed
While the treasury permits variation on orders of up to 20% on building projects, the library has been kept well below that figure and is expected to come in at between R15-million and R15.5-million.

The Maphumulo library is just one of a number of libraries being built in the province, with R45-million in funding given to the KwaZulu-Natal department by the treasury in 2012. A public library was also built at Nkandla, although Makhanya was not involved in that project.

Most of the land – 99.49% – in the Maphumulo municipality is tribal land, administered by the Ingonyama Trust on behalf of local communities, but the library is on municipal land.

Makhanya was allegedly sent back to the drawing board when he first presented plans for the library, as he wanted to replicate the library he had designed in Ndwedwe, north of Durban. His new design is considered "innovative and ecofriendly" by his colleagues.

The M&G is informed that Makhanya put his name forward to be considered by the provincial department of arts, culture, sports and recreation for a pool of architects to be used on rotation. 

The library project contrasts starkly with the upgrades Makhanya oversaw at Nkandla, which fell under the national department of public works.  Public protector Thuli Madonsela revealed in her report, Secure in Comfort, that Makhanya oversaw the entire project, despite having "no security expertise, let alone clearance". 

It is the story that would define a presidency. Phillip de Wet pulls together four years of reporting about Nkandla into a compelling e-book, now available for $2.99 from Amazon.com and authorised Paperight outlets.

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill

Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country. Read more from Glynnis Underhill

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