DA’s Schreiber, De Lille at loggerheads over cost of ministerial residences

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Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille has accused Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dr Leon Schreiber of insinuating that the government is responsible for spending nearly a billion on the total value of properties occupied by ministers and their deputies in Cape Town and Pretoria.

In an open letter to Schreiber, De Lille says the value of official residences of ministers and deputy ministers is based on present value, even though many of the properties were acquired years ago.

This follows Schreiber’s claims that De Lille could “continue to defend her ANC cadres living in 97 mansions valued at nearly R1 billion.” He further asks, “Should ministers live like Rockstars? Are they delivering services to the people of the country that justify this?”

De Lille, however, rejected this. “They were purchased for below the current value, as the value of these properties increased over time as per the trend of the property market and valuations by municipalities,” says De Lille. She claims that Schreiber ought to be aware that the value of any property increases over time.

In a Tweet, Schreiber further says, “ANC cadres abuse taxpayers to get free houses. Free vehicles. Free water. Free electricity. Free generators. It is no wonder that the ANC Cabinet cannot fix the problems in South Africa. Because they do not experience the problems in South Africa.”

Practice of ministerial residences started during apartheid:

‘Inherited practice in place before 1994’

De Lille says this practice was inherited from the apartheid government. “Since before 1994, the state has always provided houses to members of the executive. This was a practice we inherited and it’s due to the structure of government, with parliament in Cape Town and the seat of government or the executive being in Pretoria. The Groote Schuur Estate in Cape Town and the Bryntirion Estate in Pretoria, which has several ministerial residences and residences of the President and Deputy President, in fact, were acquired by the apartheid government for this purpose,” she elaborates.

She has accused Schreiber of insinuating that the democratic government brought on this practice and of blatantly ignoring the fact that this was an inherited practice which has been in place since before 1994 and before my term in office.

“This practice has been in place since 1948 when the National Party was in government,” says De Lille.

To combat what it calls an illegal abuse of taxpayers by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, the DA has already laid a complaint with the public protector.

“We have also introduced legislation to parliament that will make the Ministerial Handbook subjected to full parliamentary oversight and accountability. At the moment, the Handbook is nothing but a blank cheque for the ANC and its allies like De Lille to abuse taxpayers,” says the party via a statement on their website.

Schreiber says he wants to publicly debate De Lille “over the ethics, morality and legality of the Ministerial Handbook,” adding that, “I am prepared to debate her on any day, at any venue, for any length of time and on any platform of her choosing.”

Public-funded mansions occupied by ministers: