Thursday, August 18, 2011

Premier’s house costs taxpayers R25m

August 18 2011

Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane

Imagine having more than R500 000 a year to spend on “deep cleaning” your house, keeping the pool running and fancying up the garden.

Forget about the recession. If you don’t like it, change it.

Re-do the main bedroom, the en-suite bathroom and the dressing room. Add in the kitchen, laundry, a bit of repainting, another cupboard, some new furniture… Oh yes, how about another TV and some new bedding… Oops, the bill just went over R1 million…

Never mind there is more to do… How about R40 000 for an unregistered security business?

That is what taxpayers are coughing up for the Gauteng premier’s official residence in Bryanston. And the MEC for Infrastructure Development’s answers to questions in the Gauteng legislature this month reveal that even more was spent on the premier’s official residence.

This brings the known cost of work on the house to at least R13.5m and, adding in the R11.5m purchase price of the house in 2004, makes the cost to taxpayers – so far – at least R25m.

On Wednesday, the Premier’s Office referred to more expenditure.
The questions to the Infrastructure Development MEC were the latest in a series on spending on the house posed by DA MPL Jack Bloom.
“It looks even more fishy than before,” Bloom told The Star about discrepancies raised between the replies. “I’ve already referred the whole issue of refurbishment to the public protector. It all looked fishy. I’ll refer this as well.”
The recent questions were about the cost of maintenance contracts for the house since 2008.
The reply, by MEC Bheki Nkosi, listed work done this year as “replacing security lights”.
The only contractor hired for this year that he referred to was Sonke Plantscapers at a cost of R137 620. The department did not respond to The Star’s requests for clarity on whether that money was spent just on replacing the lights.
Nkosi’s reply said that Keliana Services was paid R547 000 in 2008 (work that year included “deep cleaning of the house, garden service, swimming pool and smaller maintenance”), and R2.7m over 2009 and 2010 (refurbishment of main bedroom, en suite bathroom, kitchen, laundry, dressing room, curtains, bedding and furniture, painting of internal walls, removing old kitchen, supply of TV, and additional cupboard and couches).
In a reply in September last year, then MEC Faith Mazibuko, lists the same 2009/10 refurbishment work, but at the lower price of R2.072m. Mazibuko’s list of contractors for this work does not include Keliana, and Nkosi’s reply does not refer to any of the contractors listed by Mazibuko.
Keliana is understood to be Keliana Management Company, and between Nkosi and the Premier’s Office, they gave three incorrect versions of the name.
“Note that Keliana Management Services is not the only company that provided services in that house; various service providers were used. Security contractor Lengwati is yet another service provider that rendered services this year for roughly R40 000,” said Xoli Mngambi, spokesman for Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
The Star could not find a security company called Lengwati registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority – a mandatory requirement.
But The Star did find one Lengwati business – an electrical business – with a valid registration listed on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission database.
Mokonyane’s office dismissed The Star’s queries.
“I’d like to remind you that in the year 2008, Nomvula Mokonyane was not the premier of the Gauteng province. Therefore, your assertion that the spending was done during a ‘recession’ surely does not apply to Mokonyane.
“Secondly, the Department of Infrastructure Development is responsible for the maintenance of any government property in the province,” said Mngambi.
Although Mokonyane was not premier when the house was bought, the ANC has run the province since 1994. South Africa went into a recession in May 2009, weeks after Mokonyane took over as premier, and more than R2m was spent on the house under her administration.

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