R3.6m a month for empty building for dept
Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance is referring a justice and constitutional development department building lease to the auditor general to investigate, it said on Thursday.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe had confirmed in written reply to a parliamentary question that the public works department had leased a building in Pretoria for use by his department at a rental of R3.662m a month, DA spokesperson Debbie Schafer said in a statement.
"Rental has been paid since January 1 2010 and the building will only be occupied by November 30 2011 as they are still 'busy with the required tenant installations'.
"Thus, over a period of 23 months, an amount of R84 235 816.63 will have been paid to lease a building that has been empty for most of that time," she said.
An additional R150 000 had been paid since April on security services for the empty building.
'Shameful waste of money'
This was a "shameful waste of money and yet another example of irresponsible financial management" by the public works department.
Schafer said she intended posing additional parliamentary questions to determine why it was necessary for the justice department to lease a new building, and why it was rented at this not insignificant amount of money when it was "apparently unsuitable for use".
In addition, it was necessary to know what kind of work needed to be done to the building, which would be quite extensive if it had not yet been completed after 18 months, and who was paying for it.
This latest revelation was reminiscent of the police lease deal saga, where inflated rentals were agreed to by the public works department for buildings yet to be renovated.
An investigation into that deal by the public protector found that both Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Police Commissioner Bheki Cele were guilty of conduct that was improper, unlawful, and amounted to maladministration.
"Depending on the answers received to my questions on the justice department lease this matter may also require investigation by the public protector.
"In the meantime, I shall refer it to the auditor general to investigate the seemingly fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred to date," Schafer said.