Picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg – Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday said it was concerned about how the public works department spent about half a million rand on refurbishing braai entertainment areas at houses allocated to ministers. 

"Scopa is of the view that South Africans cannot be expected to pay that amount of money just for a braai area for a minister," said Scopa in a statement released by Faith Ndenze from the Parliamentary Communication Services.

"The committee is concerned about what seems to be a priority for the government. Is it really necessary to spend that kind of money just for a braai area for a Cabinet minister?" 

Scopa said it was also concerned about how the State was spending exorbitant amounts of taxpayers’ money on buying and maintaining houses because some of them were not even being used by ministers or deputy ministers.

The committee said it had learnt that the department owns 148 prestige accommodation units that were allocated to ministers and deputy ministers. 

"Scopa has requested the department to provide the committee with a report of how much each of these houses was costing the government in maintenance, rates and taxes for the past two financial years," said the statement.

The committee said it has asked for a detailed report on which of these houses have been declared heritage sites. It said it was also concerned about the lack of a cap for the purchasing of ministerial houses because it had found out that the department spends as much as R9 million for a certain ministerial house.

Other ministers live in houses that cost about R4 million. 

"What informs the purchasing for these houses? It is really concerning that the department has no manual for those kinds of purchases. Scopa’s contention is that it is inherent in this department to attract all sorts of characters who want to make a quick buck."

Scopa said, among other issues, it has requested the department to return next week Wednesday with a full report on the details relating to the four companies which are KI Developers, Varymix Nineteen Pty Ltd, Sebushi Somo and MEONDO Trading.

African News Agency (ANA)