Parkside residence currently unsafe - Willies Mchunu

Total cost of all required renovations to 137 year old building is estimated by DPW to be R32 650 336, says KZN Premier

Parkside unsafe for Premier and guests


7 December 2017

Honourable Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to brief Honourable Members on recent events involving the Premier’s Residence in Pietermaritzburg which is otherwise known as Parkside.

Honourable Members, Parkside, the Premier’s residence is a state-owned building that was built in 1880 for Theophilus Shepstone, who was then Native Affairs Commissioner in Natal. 

In 1942 it was acquired by the Administrator of Natal as an official residence and in 1994 transferred to the prestige property portfolio of the then newly formed democratic government.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Members this means that this building is at least 137 years old! Owing to it being over 30years old it has been declared a heritage building. It is designated as an official residence for the Premier whenever necessary, for the hosting of guests/dignitaries, as a conference facility, press conference and official meetings venue. It must be stated that the Premier currently has rarely used this facility for residence.


Honourable Speaker, there is a logical reason why a building which houses the Premier must be kept in reasonably good condition, with a proper maintenance and renovation plan. 

This is to safe-guard what is a national heritage, but also to ensure the safety of all users including diplomatic and international guests.

As far back as 2011, the Parkside Residence was declared unsafe to inhabit and the erstwhile Honourable Premier Dr ZL Mkhize was requested to vacate the premises.

This followed a series of assessments by professionals who all recommended that renovations be carried out. A preliminary assessmentby the Department of Public Works found that the roof of the main building was in such a severe state of disrepair that it posed a safety hazard to the Premier and his visitors.

It was recommended that a tarpaulin be placed over the roof in order to prevent further damage to the roof structure. 

On 10 March 2011, Aurecon Consultants conducted a visual assessment of the roof and compiled a report. On 23 March 2011, a more technically detailed report was received from Gavin Brown and Associates Civil and Structural Engineers, which confirmed the state of disrepair of the roof of the main building of the Parkside Residence.

Honourable Speaker in other words, Parkside is not only in need ofoverdue renovation, but it became clear that its continued occupation poses a risk to the Premier and his guests.

In 2013 a Master Plan was produced for the entire infrastructure refurbishments of the Premier’s residence.  The Office of the Premier subsequently considered the report by the Department of Public Works with a view to prioritize their refurbishment programme in line with available budget over an extended period.  

The officials working at Parkside vacated the offices in August 2013 and relocated to Premier Support, 5th floor, Moses Mabhida Building as well as to the Invesco Centre due to limited space at the Moses Mabhida Building.

On 3 June 2016, a contractor was awarded a tender to the value of R497 636.00 inclusive of VAT, to complete the bathroom project.  On 21 June 2016 the bathroom project commenced.

On 22 December 2016, the Office of the Premier wrote to the DoPW complaining of poor workmanship on the bathroom project which was highlighted in all DoPW Site Inspections and Instructions.

On 10 January 2017 a special meeting was held with the contractor informing him that failure to deliver would result in the contract being terminated.  On 12 January 2017, the contractor was declared unfit to complete the contract by the appointed Architect and Quantity Surveyor.  On 19 January 2017, the contractor withdrew from the contract due to his inability to meet the requirements of the contract. 

In March 2017 there was an oversight visit by the Office of the Premier Portfolio Committee to the Parkside residence where both presentations and physical site verification was undertaken.  

The Portfolio Committee supported the Master Plan and its phased implementation.  All Political Parties in the Legislature are represented in the Portfolio Committee and they supported the Master Plan.


On 12 April 2017, a new contractor was appointed to repair and complete the bathroom renovations.  The revised budget for renovations had escalated to R821 905-80.  The earmarked completion date of the project was July 2017.

In June 2017, the DoPW provided a new Master Plan for the remainder of work to be carried out at Parkside to the value of R32,650,336-00.  Provincial Treasury was approached for financial assistance once again, but the request was declined.  This required the department to reprioritize funds in order to cater for the required renovations.

The reprioritized plan was submitted to DoPW, broken down into a 6 year plan based on what the Office of the Premier could afford, because no funding could be provided for by Provincial Treasury.

Again, in November 2017 the Parkside Residence experienced storm damage to the roof and latent defects which the construction company is dealing with.

Honourable Speaker, the total cost of all the required renovations to the Parkside Residence at present is estimated by the DoPW to be R32 650 336-00. This is payable for up to the year 2023 and includes professional fees. The figure of R35 million is therefore a projected and an estimated figure over a multi-year period based on the Master Plan report of Infrastructure refurbishment. 


Speaker, we have now taken a deliberate decision to undertake an independent process of actuarial assessments of the renovations being undertaken at the Parkside government residence. This will assess value for money. 

In addition:

- An Independent Assessor has already been appointed and they are busy with the work at hand.

- All Master Plan Projects have been placed on hold pending the outcome of investigations into the expenditure to date.

- The investigation will determine whether work done was necessary and whether proper tender processes were followed in the awarding of contracts for this purpose.  It will further seek to determine whether value for money was achieved in the performance of the contract. 

- Furthermore, the Parkside Master-Plan will also be assessed in order to establish the necessity of all further work identified or still to be identified.

- The findings of this investigation will be reported to the Provincial Cabinet and Legislature and to the public in February 2018.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Members, I hereby table the Progress Report on Renovations at Parkside Residence to for your consideration.

Issued by Thami Ngidi, Director: Media Liaison and Speech Writer, 7 December 2017