Honourable Chairperson, allow me to use the words of wisdom by, Caesar Chaves:
“History will judge societies and governments — and their institutions — not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless”.
Honourable Chairperson, on the 1st of April 2017, South Africa woke up to an unprecedented cabinet reshuffle.
To our dismay, unfit, notorious, and corrupt ANC Ministers remained in the cabinet while competent and incorruptible Ministers were substituted with the young lions with no teeth.
To us it has become clear that the redeployment of Minister Nathi Nhleko to this department is to continue with the second phase of Nkandla.
This is a testament that the budget of this Department will not benefit the poor and the vulnerable people of South Africa but only the President and his ANC cronies.
It is actually regrettable that the Department of Public Works is permanently under a cloud of corruption scandals. This is a great pity, seeing as this department has the potential to contribute to the built environment and the economy of this country.
Minister, you and your predecessor were amongst President Zuma’s men, in the Nkandla cover up scandals and you continue to do so.
The DA finds it highly suspicious that the new Minister, mysteriously cancelled a press briefing scheduled for the 25 April 2017, which was supposed to explain the new upgrades and improvements planned at President Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla.
Despite the confirmation from both senior Public Works officials and the Minister of Police that these upgrades are going ahead.
The public needs to be taken into confidence, they have the right to know how their tax money is spent. They also need the assurance that there will be no further upgrades at all at Nkandla.
This “Mantashing” by the Minister is very suspicious and strongly suggests that there is something to hide. South Africans have not forgotten the role you played in defending the Nkandla scandal from the beginning, most notably your infamous innovation of the ‘Fire pool’.
The DA strongly urges you to avoid a similar performance going forward.
Honourable Chairperson, in a written response to a DA parliamentary question, Minister Nhleko has revealed that 8 of the 14 companies contracted to carry out the notorious upgrades to Nkandla have since been rehired by the Department to perform other work. It would seem then that there has been no accountability.
He also confirmed that not a single one of the 14 companies involved in these upgrades have been blacklisted. This is a shocking revelation considering that the Constitutional Court found these upgrades to be fraught with corruption and unlawful enrichment. It clearly proves that the more connected and corruptible you are, the more valuable to the ANC government you become.
Honourable Chairperson, one of the Department’s entities, the Property Management Trading Entity was established in April 2006, with the prime focus of executing all property management related functions, such as maintenance of properties and property rate payment on behalf of the Department of Public Works.
However, it took the Department of Public Works 9 years to operationalise this entity.
The Department indicated that this entity has a 39% vacancy rate in critical positions. It does not have the specialist skills to ensure the sustainable operationalization of excellent property management.
This entity of the South African government can make the most appropriate property investment for a developing country.
The DA calls on the new Minister to make sure that this important entity is well resourced with the specialised skills required, to fulfil its mandate. This is an entity that accounts for half of the budget of the Department.
Honourable Chairperson, it is really disturbing that another entity of the department; the Independent Development Trust is in a crisis. This trust plays a crucial role in the delivery of social infrastructure in provinces, where there is a dire need and substantial backlog of facilities such as schools and clinics.
However since 1997 this entity:
• Has had a number of leadership challenges.
• Loss of critical staff in key areas of financial administration and management and as a result the entity struggled to collect management fees for all the projects it has been involved in.
• The frequent changes in leadership of client departments threatens the continuity in the IDT’s delivery of programmes and meeting of obligations to service providers.
• The budget cuts and the deliberate delays in transfer of funds by the clients’ department exposes the IDT to litigations due to late processing of service providers.
• For the past three financial years this entity has received a negative audit opinion/ disclaimer from the Office of the Auditor- General.
• The entity does not show any profit.
Honourable Minister, the DA is calling on you to transform this entity so that it can fulfil its mandate or we should scrap it once and for all. Let’s make sure that the tax payer’s money is used effectively.
Honourable Chairperson, when the DA gets into government we will make sure that state resources are used in a responsible and transparent manner. We are already doing this in the cities where we govern.
We will make sure that state resources benefits the poor and vulnerable people of this country. Leaders will not use their positions of power and state resources for self-enrichment when the DA governs.