The Democratic Alliance has said Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi must explain how R65-million was spent renovating ministers' houses.
"Some of the amounts spent on renovating just one house are, frankly, astronomical," said DA MP Anchen Dreyer on Sunday.
"Minister Nxesi needs to explain why the decision was made to spend so much money on renovations, and he must provide a detailed breakdown of the expenditure," she said.
The Sunday Times reported that Nxesi made the admission in response to a parliamentary question on December 14.
The renovation bills reportedly included: R15-mllion on a Cape Town house allocated to Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti, R10.67-million to overhaul a house earmarked for use by Transport Deputy Minister Lydia Chikunga, and just under R5-million to upgrade a house for Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
"Minister Nkwinti does not have power over state assets or the homes. He just takes whatever the department of public works allocates," his spokesperson Mtobeli Mxotwa told the Sunday Times.
'Unfortunate and unfair'
Chikunga told the newspaper it was "unfortunate and unfair" to be linked to the exorbitant spending. "I have never requested renovations of R10-million," she said.
Dreyer said the expenditure was "obscene".
"Surely the money would have been better spent on upgrading facilities such as the run-down police station in Carletonville and the police barracks in Durban that I visited last year."
Dreyer said she would now ask Nxesi to explain why so much money had been spent on renovations.
The department came under fire last year for spending close to R250-million on President Jacob Zuma's private residence in Nkandla.
When the department was questioned about this, it initially referred media to the Ministerial Handbook.
However, later in Parliament Nxesi said if anyone was to blame for overspending at the president's private home it would be his department, reinforcing an earlier statement that public works had simply implemented plans drawn up by state intelligence agencies, the police and defence force. – Sapa