DA's claim of R20-million mayoral mansion is a ‘thumb-suck’‚ says municipality

26 March 2018 - 16:33 By Bongani Mthethwa
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rands, money
rands, money
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The City of uMhlathuze has accused the DA of a “huge misrepresentation of facts” after the party claimed the municipality was spending R20-million on a mansion for its mayor‚ Mduduzi Gift Mhlongo.

In a statement issued by uMhlathuze on Monday‚ spokesman Mdu Ncalane said an estimated amount of R5.5-million was set aside as opposed to “the exaggerated thumb-sucked R20-million” stated by DA councillor Chris Botha.

This amount‚ he said‚ was for a municipal house which would be used by the elected mayor.

Ncalane was responding to a statement issued by Botha on Sunday in which he said the City of uMhlathuze was spending an estimated R20-million on Mhlongo’s mansion‚ construction of which was already under way in the Meerensee suburb in Richards Bay.

Botha has written to municipal manager Nhlanhla Sibeko to seek clarity on where the funding for the mansion is sourced from and why the project has not been communicated to the council and the public.

But Ncalane said the municipal project dated back to 2014 when Botha was still an IFP councillor.

“The municipal housing project was approved as per the Government Gazette number 37281 of January 29 2014 regulating councillors’ tools of trade and subsequently approved by the council back in 2014/2015 financial year. It was also included in the budget which was approved by council where Councillor Botha sits or is a member of.

“The City of uMhlathuze is shocked by the thumb-sucked amount mentioned by Councillor Botha (who is clearly not competent in construction matters) and views this as his way to score political points with outside parties instead of consulting his council official documents containing all factual information about this project‚” said Ncalane.

He said the land on which the property is located belongs to the municipality and there is no cost associated with utilising it.

Botha said an inspection of the building floor plans had revealed that the mansion is estimated to cover 912.65m²‚ with the remaining 3557.35m² of the plot being designated for the guards’ quarters and a garden area.

“Consultation with a few building contractors has estimated that development for high-flying politicians can range around R13‚500 per square meter‚ bringing construction cost to R12.32-million.

“This excludes the erection of the boundary wall‚ landscaping and paving and security features which can raise the cost by an added R2-million. There is still the cost of furniture and interior decoration that could escalate from anything between R750‚000 to R1.5-million if we are being modest and the continued housekeeping and garden maintenance costs can range from R20‚000 to R25‚000 a month.”

But the City of uMhlathuze said “people who are short-sighted may perceive the municipal house as a private residence for the incumbent mayor whereas the reality is that mayors serve their terms and vacate office”.

“The municipal house will remain a municipal house regardless who the incumbent is and/or whichever political party he or she may come from.”

The city said it had embarked on many projects such as the eMpangeni mega housing project with 10‚000 houses for mixed use which it was implementing‚ Acquadene housing project with 2‚400 units‚ the Ridge Estate aimed at generating income and the Alkanstrand Beach precinct.

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