On 12 February 2015, President Jacob Zuma will open Parliament with his State of the Nation Address. But thereâ€™s one thing on every South Africanâ€™s mind â€“ from Julius Malema to Evita Bezuidenhout â€“ when will the president pay back the R246-million he used to upgrade his Nkandla home? The DAILY VOX TEAM asked South Africans how they would have spent the money.
Siphokazi Saki, 20, student, Khayelitsha, Cape Town
I will give the money to the poor people, because they are suffering. I will build houses for them and people with disabilities. There are children who canâ€™t afford to pay for their education, so I would also give money to colleges for bursaries. There are people in Khayelitsha who are still waiting for their houses. I think my family has waited for 20 years. But I need the money for my bursary â€“ Iâ€™m still waiting for my acceptance letter. If I can get my bursary, I will go to school every day and I will achieve my marks.
Brendan Booysen, 35, banker, Belville, Cape Town
I will feed the nation. Thereâ€™s a whole lot of families, especially in the community that Iâ€™m, who donâ€™t have any money. They are living off grant money that isnâ€™t even that much, but Zuma can spend a few million on building this fortress for God knows what. For myself, I would use the money to better my life and my childrenâ€™s lives.
George Mocke, 74, pensioner, Manenberg, Cape Town
I would buy myself a better place than where Iâ€™m staying. We used to stay in District Six, but we got forced out into the Cape Flats. Now weâ€™re staying in Manenberg â€“ the place that they call â€œkill me quickâ€. With that money I can buy a mansion, but my dream house is just a house with swimming pool and a garden.
Kalombo Fidel, 48, informal trader, Grassy Park, Cape Town
We pay taxes and the moneyâ€™s supposed to go to schools and communities. A little while ago, I saw in the newspaper there was an article about children who were learning outside in a tent. So, I would invest the money in new schools. Thereâ€™s a lot of things that need to be done, and the money can be used to better society, instead of one person conquering it for his own good. How can you take money from the poor people? That doesnâ€™t make sense.
Zanele Shandu, 26, security guard, Umlazi, Durban
I would go back to study and upgrade my security qualifications. I have a C grade certificate, but I need A and B certificates to register my own security company. That all requires money I donâ€™t have and thatâ€™s where the Nkandla money comes in. I did not pursue my fashion passion because I did not have money for college fees, Iâ€™d also open up a sewing factory. I live in an impoverished community: these two business would help alleviate poverty and contribute to the economy. Frankly, I donâ€™t think itâ€™s fair that one man owns such an expensive house while the rest of us suffer.
Nompilo Mjilo, 21, student, Ntuzuma, Durban
Okay, that is a lot of money and Iâ€™d have to think a lot on how to spend it. But what comes to mind right now is I would actually go to the Durban University of Technology finance department and Iâ€™d give them the money so they can pay for all the students who were not funded by NSFAS. There are a lot of students who owe fees from last year, including myself. IÂ I havenâ€™t registered this year â€“ I donâ€™t know where I will get that money.
– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
– Featured image via John A Forbes, Wikimedia Commons