Cape Town - Written replies to questions asked in the provincial legislature have revealed how the office of the Education MEC has come to spend nearly R70 000 in monthly rent for a separate office while the rest of the department is housed elsewhere at a yearly rental of R49 million.
ANC education spokesperson Khalid Sayed had asked Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell for details about the office space for the Western Cape Education Department.
At the same time, ANC legislature chief whip Pat Lekker had asked Mitchell a general question about where the various MECs had their offices, how much they were paying in monthly rent and for details on the ownership of the buildings where they were housed.
In three separate replies, Mitchell said the Education MEC’s office took up a floor of Vunani Chambers in Church Street and cost the department R68 896.50 a month.
He said at the time of the lease, the WCED had indicated that additional space was required for its Directorate of Infrastructure Planning and Management (DIPM) due to the expansion of its staff by an additional 15 employees and that had the MEC’s office remained in the building there would have been no space for the DIPM.
“Parallel to the requirement for additional space, the Education MEC requested that alternative accommodation be sought for the department in order to relocate to premises closer to the legislature precinct.
“A lease agreement was signed for office space for the WCED Head Office on February 18, 2020. The lease was concluded for the 1 North Wharf Square Building, formerly known as ENS House.
“The lease was for an initial period of five years with an option to renew for a further period of five years and the monthly rental is R4 046 551.33, while the annual rental for this financial year (2021/22) is R49 152 772.90,” Mitchell said.
He said relevant offers were assessed and approved by the provincial executive.
Reacting to the replies, Sayed said: “This raises some interesting questions, considering the lease signed by the MEC for new offices, at the cost of R1 billion over 10 years. This is 40 schools that cannot be built. No more can any further comments related to lack of funds be tolerated from this MEC, it’s disingenuous.”
Lekker had also asked whether any MECs were renting offices from private entities and, if so, why they were not renting office space in the department’s own buildings.
Mitchell said the office space for the Education MEC and that of the Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC was rented from private entities and the office space for the Community Safety MEC was rented from the Government Employees Pension Fund.
The two latter MECs are accommodated in the same building as their departments.