Taxpayers fork out for glitzy pad

2009-07-20 00:00

AN assessment of the fixtures chosen for the presidential residence in Morningside, Durban, is a cause for concern.

This was the declaration made by Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard, who released a statement in response to the state’s decision to set aside R46 million for the refurbishment of King’s House.

Barnard said the DA had liaised with South African plumbing manufacturers who were alarmed upon discovering that the sanitary ware and fittings specified in the tender called for mostly imported merchandise.

She said this is tantamount to the misuse of taxpayers’ money because there are cheaper substitutes available locally.

Barnard said it is “bizarre” that the Department of Public Works would endorse design features that rule out local products which could be acquired for far less.

In her statement, Barnard cited Finance Minister Pravin Gordham’s Budget vote to Parliament in which he cautioned against reckless spending by the state.

Barnard said that in spite of this warning, “it is apparent that public money is being misused, this time on completely unnecessary opulence on the part of the government.

“At a time where local businesses are suffering and jobs need to be saved, yet another opportunity has been lost to encourage local procurement.”

She said the DA would submit a series of questions to the Department of Public Works in view of the high refurbishment costs.

It would be asked to probe the full financial costs of the renovations — including the extent of local fittings in the renovation — as well as how many nights the president is expected to spend at the residence in the coming year.

Recent media reports outlining the costs of the refurbishment caused a furore from opposing political parties.

IFP MPL Bonginkosi Buthelezi said the government should not be spending so much for renovations during a recessionary economy.

Public Works minister Geoff Doidge said the government is aware of the economic climate and is going ahead unapologetically.




In one case, the approved bath mixer stand comes with a horizontal hand shower at a price of R31 852 while the local equivalent comes with an angled hand shower and is priced at R4 312 — a difference in price of R27 540.

In another instance, the bath mixer stand, which comes with a horizontal hand shower, costs R10 073 while the local version that has an angled shower costs R2 602. The difference in unit price is R7 471.

An approved shower rail with a shower on top costs R16 018 and the local version, whose shower is fixed centrally, costs R5 822. The difference in price is R10 196.

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