State property splurge: Millions to spruce up ministers’ houses
President Cyril Ramaphosa's administration will spend nearly R750m to spruce up houses occupied by ministers, and other government-owned buildings.
The upgrades, renovations and maintenance - which one analyst described as "frills" - have been criticised as excessive at a time when South Africans are battling price increases across the board.
The splurge - which includes R5m on carpets for the Union Buildings in Pretoria, R1m for bathroom and kitchen upgrades to a ministerial house, R29m on a guardhouse and R29m on gates and a doghouse - comes as tax-collection revenue dwindles and credit ratings agencies scrutinise public finances.
Public works minister Thulas Nxesi, in a written reply to parliament on Friday, revealed that his department will spend more than R730m from state coffers in the 2019/2020 financial year to spruce up the Union Buildings, houses for MPs and ministers, and their offices within the parliamentary precinct that fall within the government's "prestige property portfolio".
This amount - which is likely to rise significantly due to rising costs - flies in the face of calls by parliament's committee on public accounts for restrained use of public funds on the prestige property portfolio after it emerged last year braai facilities at some ministerial homes cost R500,000 to install.
Nxesi revealed that:
A ministerial house in Rondebosch, Cape Town, is due for a kitchen and bathroom upgrade costing R1m in October;
Another ministerial house will get a new guardhouse, electric fence and security cameras worth R4.3m;
MPs' offices in Marks Building near parliament are getting waterproofing, window replacements and airconditioners to the tune of R10.7m;
The replacement of lifts and repairs to a PA system at the Union Buildings will cost R12.5m;
New carpets in the east wing, the offices of minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will cost R5.7m; and
To spare MPs the irritation of load-shedding, R2.9m has been set aside to "investigate provision of additional standby/emergency power supply to the precinct"...