/ 11 October 2007

Minister: DA’s figures on housing ‘fabricated’

Expenditure figures for the Department of Housing released by the Democratic Alliance (DA) were ”fabricated and irresponsible”, Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday.

Sisulu said the DA claimed the department had increased its accommodation and travel expenditure by 153%.

”The truth is that the department increased its travel and accommodation expenditure by 8% between the 2005/06 and 2006/07 financial years,” she said.

The DA’s claim was ”so outrageous” that Sisulu had requested the director general of housing to investigate.

”This investigation has concluded that the DA’s research was so flawed that its publication bordered on criminal negligence.”

Sisulu said the DA should withdraw its ”so-called research” and publish a correction in a national newspaper as well as tender a written apology to her and the department.

She would also seek advice from the speaker of Parliament and the chief state law adviser to censure the DA in this particular instance, and dissuade parliamentarians from publishing deliberate falsehoods in future.

”The DA’s distortion of the facts is severely damaging to the reputation and integrity of the Department of Housing and the ministry. We have no reason to believe the falsification was not intended as a slur,” she said.

DA spokesperson Gareth van Onselen said on Thursday that the party stood by its original figures, based on parliamentary questions posed to the minister, and would not retract its findings.

”For the problematic year in question the minister of housing, in violation of her constitutional obligations, [failed] to provide information … The DA was thus forced to rely on partial information,” Van Onselen said.

He said that should Sisulu ”seriously” consider taking the DA to the speaker, they would do the same for failing to answer the questions posed to her.

”The department made its bed, it must now sleep in it,” Van Onselen said.

The DA statement on national departmental expenditure was published on its website on September 25. — Sapa