R750 million to be spent on renovating minister’s homes and other government buildings: report

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration is set to splash out on renovations for ministerial homes and other government-owned buildings, including R29 million on a guardhouse and R29 million on gates and a doghouse.

The Sunday Times reports that more than R730 million has been set aside for a number of upgrades, at a time when the country’s tax-collection revenue is on the decline, and is in sharp contrast to the cost-cutting measures that the government has previously pledged to introduce.

Citing a written reply to parliament by public works minister, Thulas Nxesi, the paper reported that the money has been allocated for the Union Buildings, houses for MPs and ministers, and their offices within the parliamentary precinct.

The budget includes the following items:

  • R5.7 million for new carpets for the Union Buildings in Pretoria;
  • R1 million for bathroom and kitchen upgrades to a ministerial house in Rondebosch;
  • R29 million for a new guardhouse, along with electric fence and security cameras worth R4.3 million;
  • R2.9 million has been set aside to ‘investigate provision of additional standby/emergency power supply to the parliamentary precinct’ – to spare MPs the annoyance of load-shedding;
  • R29 million on gates and a doghouse.

While a large chunk of this money will be spent on parliamentary buildings, Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst and former Treasury official, said the spending on ‘frills’ was unwarranted.

“Buying carpets, I call it frills, we can do without that type of thing,” he said.

“That is a nonessential expenditure. It’s an indulgence. The budget deficit is growing, there’s pressure to cut the public wage bill.”

Changes on the way?

Government recently stated that it will revise the ministerial handbook to curb wasteful expenditure, however, this rhetoric is not new under the ruling party.

According to a May 2018 report released by the DA, South Africa’s ministerial cabinet is one of the largest in the world with 35 ministers – far bigger than the United States at 15 ministers, Kenya with 18 ministers and the United Kingdom with 21 ministers.

In addition to salaries, the DA said that the current cabinet had overspent on housing and vehicles.

Earlier this month, the opposition party brought the flash cars driven by the country’s public servants into the spotlight, one month before the National Elections, thanks to a series of questions sent to various departments. They included a range of Mercedes Benz vehicles, a Jaguar, and many diffferent types of BMW.

Read: These are the cars that South African ministers and deputy ministers are driving

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R750 million to be spent on renovating minister’s homes and other government buildings: report