Parliament joins SANDF as anti-DPWI

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Patricia de Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has again been pushed out of the picture, this time by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

Delivering his medium term budget speech (MTBS) last week, the keeper of the national purse “set aside” R2 billion for restoration of fire damaged buildings in the Parliamentary precinct with the money going to Parliament itself. Godongwana’s move – it if can be called that – was welcomed by Parliament in a statement. In part, the statement, has it Parliament’s submission to National Treasury “motivated” funds be directly allocated to Parliament, instead of DWPI.

“The submission is informed by the weighty and extraordinary task at hand, the urgency of the project and stronger oversight required for the success of the project of this magnitude,” the statement reads.

Parliament joins the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and its controlling entity – the Department of Defence (DoD) – in not wanting to accept what was once known as “government’s landlord” to maintain, repair and refurbish facilities.

The military view of DPWI was given by Minister De Lille when replying to a recent Parliamentary question posed by IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) parliamentarian Sanele Zondo. He was told, in part, “in recent times the DoD prohibited DPWI from carrying out R&R (repair and restoration) projects in their facilities”.

The R2 billion NT allocation will, according to a Parliament statement, “afford an opportunity to urgently deal with infrastructure challenges posed by the fire, including rebuilding damaged structures, interim arrangements for physical return of all Members of Parliament for plenary and committee sittings, broadcast infrastructure and modernisation of committee rooms to enable hybrid meetings”.

Godongwana’s announcement “gives added impetus to the process of rebuilding and returning Parliament to optimal operation”.

Reacting to the Parliament statement, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for De Lille’s department Samantha Graham-Mare said it was “telling and evident” that Parliament “does not have faith in DPWI’s ability to deliver a refurbished Parliament on budget and on time”.