NATIONAL NEWS - The Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed on Monday that Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille and her department was trying to hide “ill-advised expenditure” from the public, similar to the Nkandla scandal.
DA MP Tim Brauteseth’s claims come after the department of public works and infrastructure appeared before a joint committee sitting to submit their annual performance plans and budget for the coming year last Wednesday, in which De Lille was absent.
The NCOP member for public works and infrastructure said that during the sitting, he raised questions about the so-called “Prestige Projects and State Functions” listed in the presentation, which he said did not have enough information.
“Tucked neatly away towards the end of the presentation, two projects and eight state events were set down with allocations of R102 million for Prestige ‘Policies’ and R91 million for ‘Prestige Accommodation and State Functions’ with no specific details as to their purpose,” he said.
Brauteseth said the Prestige Projects and State Functions concern maintenance on state-owned properties such as presidential and ministerial residences which he compared it to the “infamous fire-pool of Nkandla”.
“The queries raised by myself were, firstly to the details of these projects and functions and secondly, to the necessity of non-essential expenditure in the context of the Covid-19 crisis where every available cent should be dedicated to caring for a nation in desperate need of poverty and economic relief.
“By the end of the presentation and the responses by Director-General Sam Vukela and his coterie of officials, these questions were left unanswered,” he said.
The MP said that Vukela was pressed again for a response and he grudgingly advised that the answers on Prestige Projects and State Functions were too complex in the time left and that a written answer would be forthcoming on the following day.
“Despite this exchange being widely reported in the media, the promised written response has still not been received. The only inference that can be drawn is that the department and by extension, Minister De Lille, are hiding ill-advised expenditure from the public.
“Prestige projects and state functions have come under fire in recent times for extravagant and glamourous excess spending while the remainder of the country plunges into the depths of economic misery.
“To make matters worse, to even contemplate this sort of expenditure during the Covid-19 crisis is unconscionable and will not stand. This is not the time for gluttony,” he said.
Brauteseth added that the DA would fight to expose the details of the “planned expenditure” and would act to have them removed entirely from the department’s budget.
De Lille is yet to respond to the matter.