Members of Parliament’s International Relations portfolio committee have heard of several dilapidated properties owned by the state in different countries.
The committee has held virtual meetings with Ambassadors from various countries over the past two days to get an account of how many state-owned properties they have in their missions.
The property could either be for office space or accommodation.
In October 2020, it came to light that R118 million was spent on property in New York that turned out to be an unsuitable building.
Minister Naledi Pandor called on to explain multi-million rand procurement of land in New York:
The MPs heard that one of the four properties owned by the state in Brazil is in a state of disrepair, with significant damage caused by illegal occupants. The property, a free-standing house, has been vacant for 15 years.
The Ambassador to Brazil, Vusi Mavimbela says they have written to the department to have the property either renovated with the aim to sell or rent out or to dispose of it.
“We understand there is no money to renovate now. But in the end, it would be best to dispose of the property. It’s like selling family jewellery when you don’t have a lot of it. But we think it’s better to dispose of the property.”
20 state properties in state of despair
The Ambassador to Namibia, Archie Whitehead says the 20 state properties are in various states of disrepair. Most of these are located in prestigious and sought-after residential areas.
He says some have also been illegally occupied.
“This property has been occupied illegally. We have moved them out, but these people just come back and we can’t do anything about it. We don’t have the means to put guards to any of these properties.”
Acting chairperson of the committee, Skhumbuzo Mpanza, says the situation cannot continue.
“We can’t have these meetings at night, will give us nightmares; it’s very bad. I don’t even know how to describe it, it’s beyond embarrassing. I assure you we can’t allow this to prevail.”
The acting DG of the department, Nonceba Losi, says the department will present its strategy on how to deal manage state property after the Easter recess.