Patricia De Lille is the Public Works and Infrastructure Minister. She shared how the state had paid around R750 million over the fourth and fifth parliament to house MPs at the three parliamentary villages in the province.
The expenditure occurred between 2009 and 2019. De Lille was responding to a written parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Willem Faber.
The government was said to have coughed out around R380 million on the three villages. The residents are in Acacia Park, Pelican Park, and Laboria Park.
The amount was paid in five years, from the fourth parliament between 2009 and 2014. For the fifth parliament, the state paid another R360 million.
What taxpayers are paying for
The costs calculated in the amount are: water and electricity, rates and taxes, management of the three villages, construction of new buildings, maintenance, and buying furniture and appliances.
On average, South African taxpayers are taking out more than R70 million annually for MPs accommodation. Bus transport for MPs living at the villages in the fifth parliament cost the state about R36 million.
Public works and infrastructure staff who manage the residence were paid around R13 million in the same period. The department also spent R35.5 million during the sitting on the fifth parliament.
The amount was said to have been for building new “access buildings” at each of the three villages. Timeslive further explained:
“In the fourth parliament, the department spent R300m on maintaining the parliamentary villages, and R162m in the fifth. Although spending on maintenance was significantly lower between 2014 and 2019, money for the purchase of furniture and appliances increased five-fold from the previous period, from about R6.4m to R30.9m.”
Faber also had a follow-up question about the accommodation structure. He asked De Lille if her department had considered providing each MP with a housing allowance instead of actual accommodation.
The minister responded in writing saying:
“The responsibility of the department of public works and infrastructure is to provide accommodation to government departments and members of parliament, among others, in terms of its mandate. Any request for allowances to public office bearers must be made to the independent commission for remuneration of public office bearers.”
Patricia De Lille, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister
A breakdown of the three villages
Acacia Park has 337 houses, 155 apartments which are comprised of a primary school, crèche, sports field, three recreational halls, a tennis court, swimming pool, and a gym.
Laboria Park has 64 houses, a recreational hall, a gym, tennis court, and swimming pool. Pelican Park has 107 housing units with similar facilities.
Over the fifth parliament, Acacia Park housed 226 MPs and 259 sessional officials. Laboria Park accommodated 56 MPs and six sessional officials.
Pelican Park was able to house 75 MPs and 35 sessional officials.