Sexwale, Sisulu offices silent on spat

The offices of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale were not taking questions on Friday morning over an apparent spat between the two African National Congress (ANC) heavyweights.

A report in the Cape Times on Friday morning quoted Sisulu saying Sexwale had failed to come up with new programmes and for claiming credit for initiatives she introduced while she was still housing minister.

Sisulu said Sexwale “has not launched a single project” since he took over the portfolio.

Her attack comes after Sexwale revealed in an answer to a Parliamentary question that the Department of Housing had spent more than R22-million on a series of plays during Sisulu’s tenure.

The industrial theatre production A re Ageng Mzanzi (Let’s Build South Africa) reportedly netted R5,5-million for a production company owned by former soap opera actor Mpho Tsedu.

Sexwale’s special adviser Chris Vick said earlier this week the minister had told his management and staff “not to allow expenditure of this sort”.

“The production in question is no longer running, and the minister of human settlements has specifically stated to his management and staff: ‘This sort of expenditure will not happen on my watch’,” Vick said.

Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Butch Steyn has written to Auditor-General Terence Nombembe, asking him to investigate expenditure on the production.

In a statement released on Thursday, Sisulu told Sexwale to “spend some time in the office reading reports and Cabinet memos from 2004”.

According to the Cape Times, Sisulu, an ANC national working committee member, sees herself as politically senior to Sexwale, who only sits on the ruling party’s national executive committee.

He defended the decision to commission the play, saying it was necessary to inform the public about new government plans for housing.

“He [Sexwale] will discover that when you implement a new plan and a housing project, you need to communicate with all stakeholders. Beneficiaries of government housing programmes must be educated on their responsibilities, how they can economically benefit from the project, how to report fraud and corruption and to ensure that contractors do not take advantage of them.”

Sisulu also replied to Sexwale’s remarks to journalists in Boksburg on Thursday that it had been necessary to demolish or renovate 40 000 houses across the country because of poor workmanship.

She said a number of projects Sexwale had claimed credit for, including plans to repair defective RDP houses at a cost of R1-billion, and bringing in the Special Investigating Unit to investigate low-cost housing fraud, had been initiated on her watch.

“Noting that since his appointment, the minister has not launched a single project, and we have not seen his plan for human settlements which differs from the one approved and launched in 2004, [and] based on five years’ experience and delivery of over 1,5-million houses, we are convinced that when the minister starts building houses or finalising his priorities, he will realise that community participation and consumer education is central to housing delivery,” Sisulu said.

According to the Cape Times Sisulu’s lashing of Sexwale could lie in the distrust some senior ANC leaders had for the former business mogul, who harboured his own presidential ambitions before throwing in his lot with Zuma on the eve of the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.

It is believed Sexwale has not abandoned his presidential ambitions and has his sights set on the ANC’s next elective conference in Mangaung in 2012.—Sapa

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