R1,4 bln upgrades to homes

2012-11-09 00:00

CAPE TOWN —  The official residences of cabinet ministers and the president in Pretoria and Cape Town are currently being upgraded — at a total cost of approximately R1,4 billion.

According to submissions by the Public Works Department seen by sister newspaper Beeld:

• R404 million is being spent on 17 ministerial residences on the Fernwood estate at an average cost of R23,7 million each.

• A R192 million project is underway at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the president’s official residence in Pretoria.

• R13,7 million has been allocated for maintenance of and repairs to Oliver Tambo House, the official residence of the deputy president.

• A R105 million project is underway to build a new luxury VIP residence in Pretoria.

The submission shows building has already begun at the four state properties in Pretoria and Cape Town occupied by ministers, their deputies, President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. The estates form part of Public Works’ prestige portfolio.

These latest findings come in the wake of a growing scandal regarding the upgrading of Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla at an estimated cost of around R248 million. DA MP Anchen Dreyer says these are enormous sums of money that show how far removed the government is from the average South African.

“One understands that there have to be official residences, but R14 million for upgrading one home? One can buy palaces for that kind of money.”

Parliament is still abuzz about the Nkandla controversy and this latest information is likely to add fuel to the fire. But minister in the presidency Collins Chabane said yesterday that the Nkandla issue does not feature at all on the cabinet’s agenda.

“It is a matter being handled by the Department of Public Works alone. There are also other bodies, such as the public protector, who are conducting investigations into the matter.”

Acting Public Works director-general Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie has handed the submissions to a committee of the National Council of Provinces. Neither Fatyela-Lindie nor any spokesperson from the department could be reached for comment yesterday.

Dreyer says she has approached the chair of the Public Works parliamentary portfolio committee requesting that the minister should come and explain.

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