Deparment of Public Works has spent 500 000 to build braai areas in three homes for ministers.

DURBAN - THE Department of Public Works has spent R500 000 installing luxury braai entertainment areas in three homes that are used by ministers and deputy ministers, the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in Parliament has revealed.

The committee raised concerns about the money that has been spent by government on opulence and luxury, while many people continue to live in poverty.

Scopa chairperson, Themba Godi, said South Africans could not afford more than R500 000 of taxpayer money to be spent on braai facilities. He said the state was spending exorbitant amounts of taxpayers’ money buying and maintaining the houses when some of them were not even being utilised by ministers or deputy ministers.

He said Scopa learnt that Public Works owns 148 prestige accommodations that wer allocated to ministers and deputy ministers. He said the department spent upto R9m purchasing homes for ministers, while others lived at homes that cost up to R4m. 

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

The committee has also asked for a detailed report on which of these houses have been declared heritage sites and the cost of maintaining these houses.

“We are also concerned about the lack of a cap for the purchasing of ministerial houses because the committee has learned that 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," he said.

Godi said the department was expected to come back next week Wednesday for a full report-back on the details relating to the issues the committee raised.