R89 million upgrades planned for South African politician residences

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is planning a number of refurbishments and upgrades to government buildings across South Africa.

This will include upgrades or refurbishments to 245 members of parliament residential units in parliamentary villages, the department said in a presentation to parliament last week.

The department said that the housing upgrades will include:

  • General building repairs and renovations;
  • Electrical installations, replacement of appliances;
  • Structural repairs where required.

In his presentation to parliament, Mzwandile Sazona, chief director of the public works department’s prestige portfolio, said that the parliamentary houses needed to be renovated as they had become dilapidated.

The total contract value of the renovations is R88.9 million, based on tenders received. A contractor has already been appointed and the project is expected to be executed in phases, with 50 units being worked on per phase.

The department said that it was also working on a number other upgrades for government buildings which are outlined in more detail below.

External security enhancements at an estimated cost of R68.68 million

  • All entrances gates and booms are to are to be mechanically operated and electronically controlled from either new or existing upgraded guardhouses;
  • Installation of anti-ramming devices to vehicular entrances (retractable bollards where possible);
  • Extension of the existing perimeter fence to meet the SAPS minimum requirements; Construction of structural canopies at all vehicular entrances;
  • This includes upgrades of all entry points to the Parliamentary precinct and buildings;
  • Upgrading of surveillance equipment in and around the Parliament Precinct.

Various kitchens in parliament buildings at an estimated cost of R25 million

This will include the replacement of  kitchen equipment and re-design of kitchens at the following addresses:

  • 90 Plein Street,
  • Marks Building,
  • National Assembly,
  • Old Assembly kitchens

The proposed renovations have largely been criticised by the committe on the financial managment of parliament, with MPs pointing to the exorbitant costs as well as the necessity of security measures such as ‘anti-ramming devices’.

The committee also criticised the unnecessary delay of the projects that have been on the cards for some time, the fact that some of the projects are unnecessary, and the escalation of cost due to the delays.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, said that parliament was not going to spend ‘R25 million refurbishing kitchens’ in her name,

She further scolded the department over the sideling of parliament in discussions around the refurbishments.  “The department should not tell parliament what its needs are, but should respond to the needs that parliament had identified,” she said.

“Parliament can’t be told by the department, for example, to fit an alarm that is unnecessary or unnecessarily replace a gate. We need to participate, not to be informed,” said Modise.

She said parliament must take over its maintenance budget and that managing its own facilities would require knowledgeable facilities management that must include expertise about how to manage heritage buildings.

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R89 million upgrades planned for South African politician residences