Houses bought to accommodate ministers and deputy ministers following President Jacob Zuma's 2009 Cabinet reshuffle cost taxpayers more than R180 million, according to a written reply to a parliamentary question, tabled on Monday.
The reply, by Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, reveals that her department spent R183,886,837 on a total of 34 houses in Pretoria and Cape Town for ministers and their deputies over the past two years.
“(In) Pretoria, 15 houses were purchased by the department since 2009 to date; in Waterkloof and Moreleta (Pretoria East). The total amount for all purchased properties is R68,195,116.
“(In) Cape Town, 19 houses were purchased by the department since 2009 to date... The total amount for all purchased properties is R115,691,721,” she said.
Dividing the total amount spent by the number of houses gives an average price of R5.4 million per dwelling.
The parliamentary question, posed by Democratic Alliance MP Erik Marais, asked for the “total purchase price in rands of each specified house purchased” for the additional ministers and deputy ministers.
In her reply, Mahlangu-Nkabinde gave totals for only the two cities.
In a statement later on Monday, DA public works spokesman John Steenhuisen said he would be submitting further questions to Mahlangu-Nkabinde to determine why it was deemed necessary to spend so much on the 34 houses, and why so many were needed.
“Official residences, when they are deemed necessary, should be reasonably costed and should serve some purpose. It is unclear why more houses were bought than is required by the six ministries (created by Zuma in 2009),” he said.
The DA demanded to know:
• Why six ministries required 34 new houses;
• Why it was deemed necessary to spend an average of R5.4 million per house;
• Whether ministers had been paying market-related rentals for their secondary official residences in Cape Town, as prescribed by the Ministerial Handbook;
• Why deputy ministers should be entitled to their own residences in Pretoria and Cape Town; and,
• Why ministers had not made use of the ministerial estate at Groote Schuur in Cape Town instead of buying new houses.
Steenhuisen said spending R183 million on houses for ministers and deputy ministers could not be right when millions of South Africans continued to live in poverty.
This total was enough to build about 2000 RDP houses.
“I will be submitting follow-up parliamentary questions to the minister of public works to get to the bottom of this,” he said