IFP angry at offices being built in PMB

2013-12-20 00:00

THE IFP came out guns blazing yesterday at reports that the KwaZulu-Natal government is considering building a multi-million-rand office development in Pietermaritzburg.

The party said taxpayers had been made to pay dearly when the capital was relocated from Ulundi to Pietermaritzburg and that the ANC had always claimed the capital city had enough office accommodation.

The Witness reported on Wednesday that a R9 million feasibility study into the offices has recommended three funding options.

This was after the Provincial Treasury commissioned the Amafa Consortium led by PriceWaterhouseCoopers to assist in determining the most cost-effective way of securing accommodation for provincial departments.

Currently, the departments are housed at state-owned and rented properties, with the latter proving too costly to the public purse.

The study follows two others that were undertaken by the Provincial Treasury for the provincial administration and a parliamentary precinct for the KZN legislature a few years ago.

The previous studies — one estimated the office complex at R800 million — were abandoned on the grounds of lack of funds amid the economic recession.

Yesterday, IFP’s Blessed Gwala questioned the rationale to construct a new office complex in Pietermaritzburg when there were disused offices at Ulundi.

“The IFP is surprised to learn that the provincial government is resuscitating an aborted plan to build a government compound that will house all departments and the legislature, all of which would cost the taxpayers over R1 billion.”

He said the people of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa were misled when the legislature and government were moved away from Ulundi amid claims that it would be cost-effective since Pietermaritzburg already had enough buildings.

The capital city was moved from Ulundi to Pietermaritzburg in 2004 after the ANC took control of the provincial administration from the IFP.

Gwala charged that the relocation of the capital city had turned Ulundi into a white elephant, at huge cost to the taxpayers and as a political statement.

“Since that time, taxpayers are paying millions of rands per month in rentals paid for buildings housing government departments as well as to hotels that house MPLs when they are in Pietermaritzburg on legislature business.

“It has now become clear that the move away from Ulundi was inspired by a political vendetta against the IFP president, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, and the IFP. The people of our province at last have an opportunity to see the ANC for what they really are,” he said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government said a decision on the funding model for the construction of the planned office complex was still to be decided by the cabinet, Premier’s spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said.

The costs of the planned complex have yet to be determined and the number of civil servants could not be established.

The KZN government has about 19 000 civil servants, including those in the capital city and in district offices across the province.

• mayibongwe.maqhina@witness.co.za

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