ANC ex-MP refuses to move out

2014-06-29 15:00

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The former ANC MP who helped stop parliamentary discussions on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home before the elections is staying put in his parliamentary house, leading to him being branded “an illegal squatter” this week.

Cecil Burgess is one of a number of former MPs who are still occupying houses in the parliamentary village in Acacia Park, Goodwood, Cape Town, more than seven weeks after the polls. Only serving MPs and some support staff are allowed to stay in the three parliamentary villages.

Those MPs who are not returning to Parliament must move out no later than 30 days after the elections, although the public works department said the final cutoff date to leave was extended to June 13.

They need to make way for newly elected MPs, who have been staying in comfortable Cape Town hotels, such as the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice, at the taxpayers’ expense because they have been unable to move in.

Referring to Burgess as an “illegal squatter”, DA parliamentary chair Anchen Dreyer said he was “officially overstaying his welcome”.

It is not clear which MP has been allocated his house.

Burgess, the former chair of the joint standing committee on intelligence, did not make it back to Parliament but is tipped for an ambassadorial post, according to insiders in the ANC and opposition parties. They speculated this may be the reason he has not yet moved out.

Burgess said his reasons for not budging were “personal” and he did not reply to questions about his possible ambassadorial post.

The ad hoc committee that was formed to deal with the Nkandla issue was dissolved before the elections and referred to the newly constituted Parliament.

Burgess is also known for his role in the passing of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill. When City Press visited Acacia Park on Thursday, three vehicles – a Toyota 4x4, a BMW and a smaller bakkie – were parked outside his home.

The veranda of the house is enclosed by bamboo poles, obscuring the interior. Like all others in the parliamentary village, the house is painted off-white and has a patch of lawn in front.

Burgess said he wrote a letter to Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi asking to stay on longer.

“It is not as if I’m staying on until the end of the year or forever. There are hundreds of people staying here who should not be here,” he said.

He said he was still waiting for a response from Nxesi.

But in a reply to City Press this week, public works spokesperson Thami Mchunu said Burgess and a few other former MPs were given an additional extension to leave by today.

It is unclear if Burgess will move out today because he did not answer follow-up calls.

DA MP Patricia Kopane said eight of her party’s members were still waiting for houses, down from 31

at the start of the parliamentary term.

Moloto Mothapo, ANC caucus spokesperson, said the matter needed to be dealt with between Burgess and the department. “As far as I know, all ANC MPs are settled in.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) chief whip Floyd Shivambu refused to say how many of the party’s new MPs were still living in hotels.

“We do not discuss houses and parliamentary logistics with media. May I humbly ask that you never ever call me about houses and peripheral issues? Our focus here is political developments and we are not concerned about noncore issues,” he said.

While waiting for their houses to be painted and renovated, MPs including EFF leader Julius Malema stayed at the Fire & Ice, where the department made block bookings.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said all their MPs were settled into their houses.

According to Mchunu, finding accommodation for incoming MPs was “complex and cannot be done overnight”. He said: “There are a number of factors that had to be accommodated. It should be noted that some MPs have schoolgoing children and could not just be immediately expected to move out of the parliamentary villages. They had to wait until the completion of the academic midterm.

“Such families had to be allowed to stay in the parliamentary village while arrangements were being made to allow them to find appropriate schools to which they can relocate.”

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