Johannesburg - The R10 million spent by the Human Settlements department on “flowers” about three years ago had in fact been cash for prizes for the Govan Mbeki Awards, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's spokesperson had said on Thursday.
Mabaya said the statement that was issued by the official opposition based on the minister’s written response on the gifts, donation and sponsorships was misleading.
“The statement is devoid of truth in stating that the amount was used on flowers and gifts for employees,” Mabaya said.
In a recent parliamentary reply, Sisulu revealed that R10.241m was spent on gifts, donations and sponsorships in 2013-14. Included in the expenditure were flowers for staff members who were hospitalised or suffered family bereavements, and gifts when the minister met foreign delegations or her counterparts.
The department spent R497 076 in 2014-15 and R45 218 in 2015-16 on donations, sponsorships and gifts.
Now, the DA’s Solly Malatsi wants Sisulu to furnish the names of beneficiaries, despite her citing a parliamentary rule that prohibits the divulging of names of people or bodies in parliamentary questions.
“Minister Sisulu and her department need to explain why such an excessive amount of money was spent on gifts when it could have been used to address the housing backlog, and could have built 100 RDP houses,” Malatsi said.
On Thursday, Mabaya said the funding had not been spent on political activities towards the 2016 general elections as suggested elsewhere.
“During the 2013/2014 Government Awards, the Department of Human Settlements came up with a special award for the best performing institutions in the sector,” he said.
“They include spheres of government and developing contractors. These awards were cash amounts given to winners to be used for human settlements development.”
He also said the annual Govan Mbeki Awards were aimed at encouraging and reinforcing a culture of excellence within the housing sector.