Minister lambasted for spending over R20 million on luxury vehicles while residents had to live with basically non-existent service delivery.
Pretoria – While 1600 households live in houses that are falling apart with crumbling infrastructure and failing services, top defence officials travel in luxury.
This was revealed in responses to parliamentary questions by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
Her department was lambasted for spending over R20 million on luxury vehicles while dilapidated buildings and infrastructure went unattended. They included Mercedes Benz seven-
seaters, BMW X5s and Audi Q7s.
Mapisa-Nqakula conceded that the department was partly responsible for the failure to address
poor maintenance of its own properties and infrastructure.
National government is responsible for maintenance, infrastructure, and most services in military bases such as Thaba Tshwane, which has been the butt of complaints from residents.
The residents were unhappy that service delivery in the area was basically non-existent, with potholes everywhere and vandalised streets.
Mapisa-Nqakula that said she was aware of the poor state of maintenance of the properties and infrastructure in the Thaba Tshwane base.
“The buildings and land that the units occupy are managed and maintained by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, which is the custodian of state land and facilities and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of these facilities.
“However, partly Defence and Military Veterans is responsible for the failure to address poor maintenance of properties and infrastructure, by not taking the initiative to repair its facilities on realising that Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is failing in its mandate.”
She said it had to be noted that Thaba Tshwane was built on dolomite, and with virtually no upgrades or renovations during the last two decades due predominantly to a lack of funds.
Mapisa-Nqakula added that there was a huge backlog of maintenance and repair, which posed serious structural maintenance problems for both her department and Public Works and Infrastructure.
“Repairs and renovations of sewers, stormwater systems and roads, as well as sinkholes, are in process to take place. A facility strategic plan has been compiled with the Thaba Tshwane military area as one of the first priorities to be addressed.”
She said the defence works formation was also “capacitating itself to be able to execute maintenance and repair work”.
DA MP Cilliers Brink said the answers showed that while 1600 families lived in houses that were falling apart, with crumbling infrastructure and failing services, top defence officials travelled in luxury.
Brink said 20 luxury vehicles were bought, and to say that Thaba Tshwane was in a state of neglect because of
lack of money was therefore not strictly true.
“What’s lacking is a sense of responsibility and common sense. The DA hopes that by focusing public attention on the conditions in Thaba Tshwane we force national government to straighten out its priorities,” said Brink.
A petition against the poor service delivery in the area has also been lodged and is gaining traction.