R93 million being spent on lavish home upgrades for South Africa’s wealthy ministers: report

 ·21 May 2023

The government, funded by taxpayers, is spending millions of rands on personal upgrades to minister’s homes, reports the CityPress.

Between 2019 and 2022, the department of public works and Infrastructure spent roughly R93 million to maintain the official residences of ministers, their deputies, and director generals, reported the CityPress.

In response to a recent parliamentary Q&A, the department minister Sihle Zikalala said that since 2019, the government has spent roughly R22 million on municipal services and R29.4 million on ministerial homes in Cape Town.

Additionally, in Pretoria, roughly R21.4 million was spent on municipal services and a further R19 million on maintenance.

The department provided little detail on which officials lived in which house, reported the publication.

Leon Schreiber, spokesperson on public works for the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), noted some of the most eyebrow-raising transactions that may point to tender corruption, include:

  • R1.4 million to renovate a kitchen
  • R240,000 for cockroach fumigation
  • R54,000 to replace a curtain rail

The most significant expenses on ministers’ homes included R50 million to assist them in avoiding load shedding (generators and diesel) and a further R43 million for their municipal services such as property tax, water and electricity.

These perks and upgrades are provided on top of salaries that reach between R2 million and R2,4 million annually.

South Africa has 97 state-owned homes for ministers and deputy ministers with a combined value of R967 million. On average, each ministerial home is valued at nearly R10 million. The houses are located in Cape Town and Pretoria, as they are considered political hubs.

Previous data from the public works department revealed that the 58 homes in Cape Town are worth almost R830 million, while the remaining 39 homes in Pretoria are valued at R137 million.

Among the 58 homes in Cape Town, 26 are occupied by cabinet ministers, averaging a value of R23.4 million per home.

Load shedding 

As the rest of the country sits in the dark for hours on end, ministers are getting alternative power supplies installed at their homes – a luxury reserved for those well-off South Africans that can afford it.

Data presented by the department of public works in March this year revealed that, in estimated terms, since 2019, including the costs incurred for water, electricity and alternative power supplies, 29 million was spent on homes in Pretoria and R25 million on Cape Town residencies.

Alternative power supplies and further benefits are closely presented in the non-binding guide for the executive titled the ‘Ministerial Handbook’. This text has come under heavy backlash from the public for its allowances and the benefits provided to ministers and their relations.

In broad terms, benefits include:

  • VIP protection – this costs government R512 million a year
  • Salaries for support staff – R387 million a year
  • International travel – R20 million a year
  • Vehicles – R6 million a year
  • Alternative electricity, water and security – R14 million a year.

To nullify certain provisions allowing minister benefits, the DA has tabled the Cut Cabinet Perks Bill, which introduces several amendments to the Rumenration of Public Office-Bearers Act and is designed to ‘rein in the obscene waste of valuable public resources.’

Read: South Africa’s latest load shedding ‘unicorn’ is not the answer: expert

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