Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, needs to explain the expenditure of R65 million on renovations to ministerial mansions in the 2011/2012 financial year. Some of the amounts spent on renovating just one house are frankly astronomical:
- R15 million was spent on a house in Cape Town for Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti;
- R10.67 million was spend on the overhaul of a house earmarked for use by deputy Transport Minister Lydia Chikunga; and
- just under R5 million was spent on upgrades to a home for Agriculture Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
These amounts likely far exceed the initial purchase price of the houses in question. Minister Nxesi needs to explain why the decision was made to spend so much money on renovations, and he must provide a detailed breakdown of the expenditure.
Given the dire need for upgrades to government offices that provide a public service, such excessive expenditure on accommodation for ministers is simply obscene. Surely the money would have been better spent on upgrading facilities such as the run-down police station in Carletonville and the police barracks in Durban that I visited last year. These are just two examples of the many public buildings throughout South Africa that are being neglected by the Department of Public Works while President Zuma's Nkandla home and the houses of government ministers are prioritised.
I will therefore be submitting Parliamentary questions to Minister Nxesi to determine:
- Who authorised the decision to spend these amounts on the houses in question;
- What exactly the money was spent on; and
- How much is budgeted for renovations to ministerial housing for the 2012/2013 year.
It is time for the Department of Public Works to stop prioritising expenditure on needless luxuries for members of the executive, and instead focus on providing better services to the rest of South Africa's citizens.
Anchen Dreyer, Shadow Minister of Public Works