'I'm flaming mad' – former KZN premier on planned R32m residence upgrades

2017-10-23 13:20
Former KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu.

Former KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - As public outrage over the KwaZulu-Natal Premier’s R32 million residence upgrades mounts, former occupant Senzo Mchunu has reacted with shock.

“During my time as Premier I used to utilise the residence quite often. I don’t remember seeing any defects that can justify R32 million renovations,” he said. “Frankly speaking, it is the first time I’m hearing that three bathrooms can cost R500 000 to repair.”

Mchunu, who was Premier between 2013 and 2016, was reacting to The Witness’s report on Friday revealing plans by the KZN government to splurge R32 million on repairs and renovations to the Parkside residence in Pietermaritzburg.

Current KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu, confirmed the renovations in his replies to Democratic Alliance MPL Sizwe Mchunu’s written parliamentary questions.

“[We] will request further information on what appears to be a duplication of certain projects,” said the DA MPL on Friday. “We are also well aware that the Premier’s reply only accounts for around R2 million of a total R32 million and we will demand further answers from the Premier’s Office in this regard.”

Renovations that have already been undertaken include three bathrooms at a cost of R540 000, swimming pool surrounds at R1 million and electrical light fittings at R180 000.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) said repairs at the Premier’s residence were being used as an excuse to enrich a few.

“What pains us the most is that there is a lot of poverty in this province and yet no one can demonstrate how the poor are benefiting from this massive spending. To me, that building is nothing but a white elephant being used to siphon public funds,” said IFP national chairperson, Blessed Gwala.

- Also read: ‘A slap in the face’ by govt

Others were equally critical of the spending.

“This makes me flaming mad. Have you seen the filth along College Road, the same road as the Premier’s house? Surely spend the money on keeping this town clean and restoring it to what it once used to be,” wrote Pietermaritzburg resident Katherine Botha on Facebook.

Durban resident Malibongwe Shange slammed the upgrades as “an insult to the poor”.

There had been suggestions that the current Premier had never spent a night at the residence since assuming office more than a year ago.

However, he dismissed the rumours, saying the property was being used for its “intended purpose”.

* In the Witness story on Friday we wrote that R540 000 was spent on refurbishing a single bathroom. It has since been established that the amount was actually for three bathrooms.


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