Renovations have been carried out on Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s swimming pool at his official residence, because it was too large “and unnecessarily deep”.
In a written reply in the provincial legislature, MEC for public works Sam Mashinini defended the spending of close to R8-million in the 2011/2012 financial year on mostly aesthetic upgrades to Magashule’s official home.
This was in response to a question submitted by the DA in November last year.
“The pool was large and unnecessarily deep, which meant it hardly heated up in the summer and was difficult for the premier to use as he has small children,” Mashinini wrote in his response.
A new pool house was also built for the premier which included entertainment facilities and well as a committee room, dining room, lounge, kitchen and a bathroom.
“The structure had to visually complement the existing main residence,” read the official explanation for the expenditure.
Mashinini also said the services of a specialist landscaper were retained.
More taxpayers money was also spent on renovations to the official guesthouse.
Mashinini said the guesthouse now has four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a kitchen, lounge, dining room and an outdoor entertainment area.
The windows and doors were also upgraded “to match the official residence”.
“The prefabricated fence was removed and was replaced with a suitable design in steel,” said Mashinini.
The DA in the Free State said that nothing could be done because it was a state home and not the private residence of the premier.
“Ace Magashule genuinely revels in luxury at the expense of the people of the Free State. If it is not five star international holidays for massive delegations, then he and his MECs dine at state sponsored gala dinners. While hundreds of thousands suffer in poverty, you can be sure that Ace Magashule and his family enjoy the good life,” said DA MPL Leona Kleynhans.
She said the money could have been spent on building 80 houses for the poor in the province.
“If you look at the state of province, the hospitals are suffering. Lifts are not working. So to spend R8-million on luxuries is completely ridiculous,” Kleynhans told the Mail & Guardian on Tuesday.
Magashule’s spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said the money had been spent on renovations.
“The funds that have been voted for in the presence and participation of the DA have been used to renovate the Free State House,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.