Public works and infrastructure minister Sihle Zikalala has revealed that his department spent R93 million on supporting cabinet members’ homes between 2019 and 2022.
Responding to questions from DA MP Leon Schreiber, Zikalala acknowledged that this spending constitutes “what appears to be hugely inflated prices” and said he would launch an inquiry into the matter.
Zikalala unveiled that this spending included:
- R400,000 on pest control over three months at a minister’s house.
- R1.4 million on a facelift for a home in Upper Kenilworth, Cape Town.
- R2.1 million on diesel for generators at 71 ministerial homes in Pretoria.
- R454,000 on installing a generator at a Pretoria home.
- R470,000 on repairing an intercom and security system at a Houghton Estate, Johannesburg home.
- R1.6 million on fixing the leaking roofs of ministerial homes near the Union Buildings.
“The costs of some of these items are not justifiable and smack of mischief by service providers who seem to have identified the department of public works as a milk cow,” said Zikalala.
“This puts a stain on public representatives and portrays them as if they have sanctioned such procurement. We have a duty to lead by example and set the right tone in spending public monies.”
Schreiber responded that this lavish spending on minister homes is unacceptable and unsustainable.
“Our country simply cannot afford to keep paying for lifestyles of ministers who live like rock stars while load-shedding, unemployment and poverty are at crisis levels,” said Schreiber.
Minister backup power
Zikalala previously disclosed that the public works department had spent R7.04 million procuring and installing alternative electricity systems at the ministerial homes during the same period.
This comprised the installation of generators, solar systems, and inverters and mostly happened in affluent Pretoria suburbs.
Zikalala acknowledged this was not a good use of his department’s resources.
“Yes, it’s a point. It’s a valid one. It needs to be considered; we should all ensure that we save all resources,” said Zikalala.
“It’s a cry that should be noted, especially in the current situation; it’s a cry that we should not downplay.”
Gifts for ministers
Last month, the government also disclosed its Register of Member Interests for 2022.
This includes all gifts, directorships, and shareholdings — including the gifts received from companies like MultiChoice, Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, and Cell C.
“The release of the register entrenches Parliament’s commitment to building public trust and confidence in public representatives, thereby protecting and promoting Parliament’s integrity,” the committee said in a statement accompanying the report.
“The committee is steadfast in its belief that ethical and honest behaviour should be an integral pillar of an accountable Parliament.”
This report had fewer disclosures regarding smartphone-related gifts than in 2021 — when Huawei and MTN gifted two smartphones, a tablet, and a smartwatch between three different MPs.
In contrast, in 2022, only Telkom had given former communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy Watch Active.
The table below summarises the tech and tech-related gifts MPs declared for 2022.
|Gifts, Hospitality, and Benefits to MPs|
|Telkom||Khumbudzo Ntshavheni||ANC||Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and Galaxy Watch Active||R35,000|
|Vodacom||John Jeffery||ANC||Vodacom Onyx programme||Undisclosed|
|MTN||Kwati Mashego-Dlamini||ANC||Flask, Pen, Diary and USB||R700|
|MultiChoice||Pinky Kekana||ANC||DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival 2022 VIP tickets||R3,100|
|MultiChoice||Ncediso “Zizi” Kodwa||ANC||DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival 2022 VIP tickets||R3,100|
|MultiChoice||Buti Kgwaridi Manamela||ANC||DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival 2022||R3,100|
|Huawei||Butu Kgwaridi Manamela||ANC||Sports watch||Unknown|
|Huawei (Yihou “Joe” Zhou)||Ronald Lamola||ANC||Two bottles of Glenfiddich whisky and a bottle of Kanonkop wine||Unknown|
|Cell C||Darren Bergman||DA||Annual upgrades||Undisclosed|
|Embassy of Qatar||Lydia Chikunga||ANC||iPhone 13||R17,999|
|Nokuthula Nyandeni||Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma||ANC||iPhone 13 Pro Max 512GB||R32,000|