Free State premier's office defends R8m upgrade

2015-04-29 16:32
Premier Ace Magashule (City Press)

Premier Ace Magashule (City Press)

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Bloemfontein - Free State Premier Ace Magashule's office on Wednesday defended the almost R8m spent on remodelling his guest house and swimming pool.

"It is clear from the statement issued by the [DA] is meant to tarnish the image of the premier by dragging his name in the mud and misleading the public on how appropriated funds have to be utilised," a statement said.

"The budget for renovations was voted for as per the responsibility of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure which must look after the good state and upkeep of public infrastructure and buildings that belong to government.

"The money that was used in the renovations was meant for renovations and not for any other thing."

In a reply to questions by DA MPL Leona Kleynhans, Public Works MEC Sam Mashinini explained that extensions were made "to accommodate a new pool house that includes entertainment facility, as well as a committee room used for caucus meetings and other similar functions".

The work included a dining room, a lounge, a kitchen, and ablution facilities and had to visually complement the existing main residence.

The building had to be rewired and a modern security system added.

The original swimming pool also had to be altered.

"The pool was large and unnecessarily deep, which meant that it might hardly heat up in summer and was difficult for the premier to use as he has small children," the reply read.

The pool needed to be made shallower - to a depth of 1.4m and "also made smaller to allow lap swimming".

The guest house was "no longer functional in terms of offering  luxury accommodation to visiting dignitaries", Mashinini continued.

So, it was upgraded from a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house, to a four-bedroom with en-suite facilities, a five-star kitchen, lounge, dining room and outside entertainment area.

The windows and doors were changed to suit the house and the prefabricated wall came down, to be replaced with a steel fence.

Paving had to be altered to allow for outdoor seating, and suitable outdoor furniture had to be acquired.

Because the staff quarters were in a "state of disrepair", staff had been living in the guest lodge.

Staff quarters were revamped with new kitchen and bathroom facilities, and fittings.

Some landscaping also had to be done, and unsightly wiring attended to.

No work was done to the main building. The total cost was R7 925 146.06.

"Work was done only to the official residence and no work was done to any private residence of the premier."

It said the budget of the provincial government prioritised public sector incentives for creating opportunities for the youth and social investment in public infrastructure, including provision of houses and other public amenities.

"The Free State provincial government will not be deterred from forging ahead with plans that seek to restore the dignity of the people of the province and creation of economic opportunities for all.

"Systematically, the DA has been selecting issues and using the media to raise their issues thus undermining their inability to dictate the cause of action through the parliamentary processes.

"They asked questions in the Legislature and the government has obliged by making information available. They are now turning around to use this information falsely to depict government in a bad light. The funds that have been voted for in the presence and participation of the DA have been used to renovate the Free State House."

Read more on:    ace magashule  |  bloemfointein  |  local government  |  government spending
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