Minister Nxesi must disclose cost of Ministerial Houses
04 August 2014
The DA welcomes the dismissal of former Director of the Prestige Unit in the Department of Public Works, Noloyiso Ntwana, for fraudulently paying contractors more than R60 million to renovate houses for new government ministers in 2009 (see report in The Star).
Questions remain as to the total amount spent on upgrades at Ministerial Homes since 2009.
Wasteful expenditure on mansions for government officials is unfortunately not a new problem. It was revealed last year in a reply to a parliamentary question that the Department planned to spend R43.6 million on ministerial mansions during that budget term.
Minister Nxesi claims that providing details relating to public money spent on 35 ministerial homes since 2009 would ‘compromise security' of Ministers.
This is a weak excuse in an attempt to classify the information. Just last year, no such reasons were sighted when providing details relating to some of these homes. The Minister's reply revealed that:
In 2009, R15 million was spent on a house in Cape Town for Rural Development Minister, Gugile Nkwinti;
R10.67 million was spent on the overhaul of a house earmarked for use by then deputy Transport Minister, Lydia Chikunga; and
Just under R5 million was spent on upgrades to a home for the then Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson
The Minister's excuse is an attempt to limit oversight by members of Parliament.
The DA has once again submitted questions to the Minister, demanding that he provide details relating to these homes - to which we are yet to receive a response.
Should our request be refused, we will submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to gain access to all related documentation.
If Minister Nxesi is truly committed to running an accountable and transparent ministry, full details relating to fraudulent, wasteful and irregular expenditure must be up for full public scrutiny.
It is time for the Minister to act in the interest of all South Africans by providing the full details relating to these costs.
Statement issued by Kenneth Mubu MP, DA Shadow Minister of Public Works, August 4 2014
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