100 RDP houses could have been built instead, says DA
HUMAN Settlement Minister Lindiwe Sisulu yesterday said the R10 million spent by her department on “flowers” about three years ago had in fact been cash for prizes for the Govan Mbeki awards, her spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said.
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 R10.241 million was spent on gifts, donations and sponsorships in 2013-14.
Included in the expenditure were flowers for staff members who had been hospitalised, and for those suffering family bereavements, which did not necessarily qualify to be regarded as gifts, she said.
“The department also purchases gifts when the Minister meets with foreign delegations or her counterparts,” Sisulu said in her written reply.
The department spent R497 076 in 2014-15 and R45 218 in 2015-16 on donations, sponsorships and gifts. The entities of the department had spent separate amounts.
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 persons 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.
“The DA will continue to hold public officials and state entities who mismanage to account.”
Today, Mabaya said the funding had not been spent on political activities towards the 2016 general elections as suggested elsewhere.
“We would like to put it record that 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.
“These institutions 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 in the delivery of integrated human settlements.
“It is worth noting that these special awards with monetary value have since been discontinued,” Mabaya said.
“It is rather unfortunate that the honourable member mischievously chose to change his
question when engaging with the media by deciding to focus on flowers and gifts
instead of sticking to his original question which deals with gifts, donations and sponsorships.”
Contacted for comment, Malatsi said if Sisulu wanted to be taken into confidence, she should be
transparent about the winners and prize money.
“We understand it (2013-14 expenditure) predates her, but she must provide us with names of all the winners and costs of prize money so that we can be confident and reconcile the amounts,” Malatsi said.
He also said her statement was different from the initial parliamentary response.
“Her statement is a somersault. She entangled herself in a web of explanations that are not
consistent,” Malatsi said.
“The money was used for political reasons. We know that in 2013/14, it was an elections year.”