The government is splashing R423 million on upgrading the official homes and offices of lawmakers and public office bearers.
In response to DA MP Tim Brauteseth’s written parliamentary question, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said the planned expenditure on prestige projects for the 2020/21 budget was R423 million.
According the De Lille’s reply, R203 million have been allocated for facilities management at the Union Buildings and Presidency offices.
Another R48 million have been set aside for the revamping of the Groote Schuur Estate; a budget of R15 million for roads and parking at the Bryntirion Presidential Estate and R104 million will be spent on parliamentary villages in Cape Town.
De Lille said in Cape Town, parliamentary villages, the residences of sessional officials, had been refurbished.
“This project has been completed and the budget amount is for final account to close this project,” her answer read.
It came at a cost of R300,000.
Another R54 million have been set aside to “provide integrated facilities management services for a five-year period in the parliamentary villages and for official residential accommodation”.
“This is the current facilities management contract that will expire on the 30 September 2020,” De Lille said.
Her report indicated R40 million would be allocated for routine, sustainable maintenance and minor upgrades to residential units in the three parliamentary villages.
Refurbishments are also under way at the National Council of Provinces building, including work on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as electrical and electronic installations.
“This project is scheduled to be completed in July 2020,” De Lille said.
The project will cost about R11,800,000.
Her report said R54 million had been set aside for integrated facilities management services for a five-year period at a parliamentary complex and official office accommodation.
The management contract expires at the end of September.
Brauteseth said while it might be argued some of this expenditure was essential maintenance, the DA believed in a Covid-19 crisis such expenditure was incredibly irresponsible.
“Prestige projects and state functions have come under fire in recent times for extravagant and glamorous excess spending while the remainder of the country plunges into the depths of economic misery.
“All available, non-essential expenditure must be directed towards caring for the lives and livelihoods of all South Africans, not projects around government installations which are only being used by a greatly reduced percentage of their occupants, especially during the national lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
The DA has called for this expenditure to be urgently revisited and reprioritised to cater to the real needs of the nation in the midst of the Covid-19 storm.