Officials to score from R265m lease

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Johannesburg -

Most leases for headquarters for government departments have not been put to tender - and a company with links to Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and senior ANC MP Thaba Mufamadi is to collect a tidy R265 million through its lease to the Department of Home Affairs.

The matter has gained the attention of Parliament’s ethics watchdog, which investigated a possible conflict of interest but found Mufamadi had, as required, declared his interests in the company, Manaka.

In a written reply to the DA’s Dion George, Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi confirmed that most leases for government headquarters had not gone out to tender.

Of 20, for which information was provided by Nxesi in his reply, 15 had been “negotiated”, one had been “nominated” and another had been “identified” by the client department.

Tenders for headquarter leases were invited in only two cases.

Manaka CEO Joe Mathebula confirmed on Tuesday that his company had a “negotiated” lease, adding that the information wasn’t new.

“Maybe the rest is a Public Works issue. We’ve done what we’re supposed to do.”

Mathebula said Mathale was not a director of the company, but “remains a shareholder”.

“He declared that a long time ago,” said Mathebula.

According to George, the “negotiated” lease for the building occupied by the Department of Home Affairs would earn Manaka Properties “a tidy R265m over the lease period”. The lease expires in October 2017.

Mathale was “not involved [with Manaka] any more”, his spokeswoman, Mashadi Mathosa, said.

Mufamadi said his interests in Manaka had been dealt with by Parliament. “I’ve declared. And my involvement is not operational.”

The co-chairman of Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests, Ben Turok, said the lease agreement with Manaka “does concern us. We have examined the allegations in newspapers about [Mufamadi] and we found no problem. The impression is that he acquired those assets before he came to Parliament.”

George is to ask that Nxesi appear before the standing committee on public accounts to clarify the use of negotiated leases. - Pretoria News


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