Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) said on Friday that it will be seeking further answers regarding more than R32 million in expenditure earmarked for the renovations to upgrade the Premier's official residence in Pietermaritzburg.
This follows a Wednesday's parliamentary reply to the DA in KZN which revealed that Willie Mchunu's official residence, Parkside Residence on Topham Road, was currently undergoing renovations valued R32 650 330.
The reply from the Office of the Premier was signed by Mchunu and his director-general, Nonhlanhla Mkhize. The provincial government said that the expenditure was budgeted for under Vote 1.
According to response, the upgrades include renovations to the swimming pool surrounding area including the paving and braai area to the value of R1 010 000; upgrading of three bathrooms for R540 000; and repairs to electrical light fittings for R180 000.
The reply also reveals that the monthly running costs for the property includes a garden service fee of R15 960, a water and electricity bill of plus or minus R10 000, and DStv for R1 755.
The work will be done by the province's Department of Public Works which has completed the upgrade of the bathrooms in August.
The department has undertaken to complete all other work by 2023. The tender was advertised by Amafa, the provincial heritage agency for KwaZulu Natal, in 2013.
DA KZN spokesperson on public works, Sizwe Mchunu, said that such runaway expenditure was a slap in the face of every person in the province struggling to make ends meet.
The DA's Mchunu said that this was a blow particularly for those who are currently homeless or who have been living in transit camps for years as they wait for low cost government housing.
The expenditure comes as eThekwini (Durban) Municipality has said that the city needs about R300-million to deal with the damage after the deadly storm that hit the province two weeks ago, while the health department has completed its assessment of damage to hospitals and clinics in the province and estimates that it will cost about R100-million for repairs."
"With KZN's current massive housing backlog every cent counts and the R32 million allocated to upgrade the Premier's residence could have built more than 300 low cost housing units. In short, it could have given at least 300 families some dignity and hope," Mchunu said.
"The Premier's residence seems to be an ongoing drain on the province's coffers. Research conducted by the DA has revealed that Amafa advertised a tender in 2013 for work at Parkside which in fact included bathroom renovations and an electrical upgrade."
The DA said other renovations advertised at the time included repairs to main house roof; replacing of thatch on cottage roof; upgrades to air-conditioning installation; bedroom cupboard replacement; and a kitchen upgrade.
As a result, Mchunu said the DA will request further information on what appears to be a duplication of certain projects.
"We are also well aware that the Premier's reply only accounts for around R2 million of a total R32 million and we will demand further answers from the Premier's Office in this regard," Mchunu said.