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Public works department admits to spending R65m on renovations

Sapa

The department of public works has confirmed that it did spend R65-million on renovating ministers' houses, said a departmental spokesperson.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi. (Gallo)

"The department has spent R65-million of its allocated budgets under its prestige portfolio effecting renovations and improvements to a number of state-owned houses in both Cape Town and Pretoria allocated to members of the executive," said spokesperson Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie on Monday.

"Approximately 27 properties were involved with varying degrees of scopes of work."

She said spending money on houses of ministers was within the department's "core function".

The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi admitted to spending R65-million on renovating ministers' houses in the 2011/12 financial year.

Nxesi made the admission in response to a parliamentary question on December 14.

The renovation bills reportedly included R15-million 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.

Department's responsibilities
"It is important to note that it is not the responsibility of the individual ministers to decide on the scope of renovation of state properties.

"This task is solely the responsibility of the department of public works in line with its constitutional mandate," said Fatyela-Lindie.

She said the Nxesi had embarked on a number of corrective measures to deal with suppliers who inflated prices during projects done by the department.

These measures included the formation of a task team made up of engineers, architects and construction project management to investigate the prices and construction quality.

In line with these corrective measures, external service providers had been brought on board to promote compliance, eliminate corruption and improve efficiencies, she said. – Sapa

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