R400m to upgrade official residences
Lizel Steenkamp, Die Burger
Cape Town - Renovations to the presidential homes and offices, as well as to the Bryntirion estate in Pretoria where ministers live, will cost more than R400m.
A brand-new dressing room and sauna are part of the interior renovations to Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the president's official residence in Pretoria, of which the total estimated cost is about R169m.
These details are contained in a written reply by Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde to parliamentary questions asked by Athol Trollip, the DA’s parliamentary leader.
Trollip has highlighted the huge expenses at a time when millions of people are unemployed and there is poor service delivery countrywide.
“The state can build 7 000 houses with these millions,” said Trollip.
He says President Jacob Zuma has a poor understanding of the hardships suffered by citizens and little respect for frugality.
“He will live in these houses and has to be accountable for the huge expenses.”
Details of the renovations are:
- Genadendal, Zuma’s official Cape Town residence: R13.5m has already been spent over the past three financial years
- Tuynhuys, Zuma’s offices at Parliament: R24.4m has been spent over the past three financial years and another R780 000 has been spent on office furniture
- Bryntirion estate in Pretoria: The estimated expense is R193m, of which R55m is for a new road to the estate, R42m for a new fence
- Mahlamba Ndlopfu, Zuma’s official residence in Pretoria: an estimated R169m. Maintenance has to be done to the security system, which includes improving escape routes and the installation of an electronic surveillance system
Apart from renovations to wooden frames, balconies, steps, fireplaces and chandeliers at this residence, a new dressing room, sauna and steam room are also being built.
New baths and toilets are being supplied and the house will be fitted with extensive energy saving devices, among them solar water heaters.
Not ordered by president
In response to Trollip’s question on whether the listed expenses were justified, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said the “market determined construction costs” and that the contracts were awarded after a tender procedure.
Presidency spokesperson Zanele Mngadi said none of the work had been ordered by Zuma.
"No, the president never gets involved in renovations," The Star quoted her as saying.
"The department of public works is responsible for managing government property, and procurement is done in terms of its procurement policy."