Public confidence in Public Works will be difficult to regain
The Times Editorial: A month ago, Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi boldly stated: "All reports [from the Special Investigating Unit, the auditor-general and the public protector] have put us in a negative light. Clearly, the brand Public Works is finished. We have to reconstruct the brand."
It is becoming increasingly clear just how much of a mess Public Works really finds itself in. It is far more than just two complicated and problematic lease agreements it entered into on behalf of the South African Police Service.
We have, over the past week, chronicled significant problems related to the servicing of lease agreements on behalf of police stations in Limpopo. In terms of the money involved, these agreements are not in the same league as the controversial multimillion-rand police headquarters' deals.
Here, police officers have been unable to do their jobs properly because electricity supply to their offices has been disconnected as a result of the Department of Public Works's failure to honour rental agreements. It would now appear that the problem is not confined to Limpopo.
Nxesi has been bold with his intentions of cleaning up the shambles in his department, and has even stated he has called on five other state departments to help him clear up the mess he has inherited.
Last month, Nxesi said a team would conduct an audit of all the buildings under his control. And he admitted that contractors' renovation costs had been inflated because his department had no proper controls.
The department is in a parlous state and Nxesi faces a monumental task in putting it right.
The controversial police headquarters deals in Pretoria and Durban might just be the tip of the iceberg in Nxesi's department.
And, however much he wishes to reconstruct the Public Works brand, it is likely to take quite some time before public confidence is restored.