Housing dept spends R60m on ads

2009-11-24 22:16

Cape Town - The department of human settlements spent R60m on advertising during the 2008/09 financial year, despite its budget of just R20m.

The department said in reply to a Parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance that the R60m included the 52 performances of a face-to-face housing consumer campaign and a housing awards ceremony.

"The costs also include all advertising conceptualisation, production and procurement of media space for public broadcast or publication," the department said in its answer.

DA MP Butch Steyn said South Africa could not afford to continue spending massive amounts of money on advertising campaigns and events "which rarely have a direct impact upon rolling out of services".

"There is simply no excuse that funds are being wasted like this - money that should be spent eradicating the massive service delivery backlogs is instead being spent on self-congratulatory public relations campaigns and talk shops," Steyn said.

'Could have been spent on RDP houses'

A reply to a separate question revealed that the department spent R9.6m on conferences, imbizos and seminars for the period January 1 2006 to September 1 2009, and R883 000 on travel costs for the functions.

Particularly concerning is the fact that R23.4m was spent on one particular campaign which, according to the reply, was intended to "continue to profile the housing programmes, developments, achievements and challenges to beneficiaries and the general public," Steyn said.

"It is very difficult to see how R23m could be justified on this kind of self-indulgent marketing.

"This was not the only expenditure item of concern. One awards ceremony cost the department R1.8m to organise and host, another R600 000 for accommodation and transport, and another R930 000 to advertise.

"In other words, it set the public purse back R3.3m.

"This R9.6m, added to the R60m spent on advertising, could have built RDP houses for another 6 500 South Africans," Steyn said.