Government blowing millions on maintaining at least 3 long-term vacant ministerial homes

Government blowing millions on maintaining at least 3 long-term vacant ministerial homes

- Scopa heard that the department of public works is spending millions of rand on maintenance and upkeep of vacant ministerial homes

- The department was forced to admit that at least 3 of those homes had been vacant for between six and eight years

- In addition to the millions spent on maintenance, the government is being forced to millions more on hotel rooms and short-term rentals

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Parliament’s no-nonsense Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) heard that the department of public works was currently spending millions of rand on maintenance and upkeep on vacant ministerial homes in Pretoria.

Officials from the department told Scope on Wednesday that at least three of those homes in Pretoria had been left vacant for between six and eight years. Scopa has been ruthlessly analysing the public costs associated with housing provided to ministers, deputy ministers, Members of Parliament (MPs) and other government officials.

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The department of public works’ prestige portfolio boss, Mzwandile Sazona, revealed that the house which had been vacant for eight years had remained so because of a long-standing and ongoing legal dispute the department had with a former contractor. gathered that one of the other homes which had been vacant for six years was vacated by a minister after a burglary took place. The property has since undergone expensive security upgrades but remains vacant.

The property was allocated to the head of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) but the offer was rejected by the current PAP president Roger Nkodo Dang. reported that Dang instead opted to reside at a luxurious Sandton hotel for which the government has to pay.

The members of Scope were visibly shocked when it was revealed that the department spends R65 million per year for maintenance, upkeep and other costs on occupied ministerial homes when those living in the homes pay virtually nothing for those homes.

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Scopa heard that director generals pay in some cases as little as R74 per month in rent while ministers and deputy ministers pay between R900 and R1200 per month in rent.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi was unimpressed with this self-created inequality and a complete waste of government money. He pointed out that in most cases maintenance work was being sub-contracted to private companies instead of the department embarking on an employment drive to find suitably qualified artisans and technicians who could do the work.

Public Works minister Thulas Nxesi said President Cyril Ramaphosa was in the process of reviewing ministerial and government officials’ benefits due to the depleted state of the public purse.

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