Millions spent on backup power for ministers — while South Africans sit in the dark
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The Department of Public Works has been procuring and installing alternative electricity systems at the homes of ministers and their deputies since 2019 – costing South Africa R7.04 million.
According to the Sunday Times, this has predominantly been happening in affluent Pretoria suburbs and has comprised the installation of generators, solar systems, and inverters.
Newly-appointed public works minister Sihle Zikalala disclosed this information following questions from DA MP Leon Schreiber and acknowledged that South Africans have every right to be angry.
“Yes, it’s a point. It’s a valid one. It needs to be considered; we should all ensure that we save all resources,” said Zikalala.
“It’s a cry that should be noted, especially in the current situation; it’s a cry that we should not downplay.”
Zikalala added that in the next few days, the public works department would announce a new government position regarding the matter.
Further bad news for South Africans is that Eskom’s new minister of electricity, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, also has a history of lavish spending at state residences.
When he served as Tshwane mayor — from 2010 to 2016 — his mayoral residence received a R12 million makeover.
Former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has claimed that this R12 million was misused on dodgy renovations — and despite its extravagant makeover, the house was sold in November 2017 for just R5.1 million.
Electricity minister’s skeletons
Ramokgopa was also previously embroiled in scandal because of a controversial multi-billion rand tender awarded to a company called PEU Capital Partners.
PEU was originally hired as an advisor but soon became a service provider contracted to install smart metres in Tshwane.
Irregularities in this deal saw it challenged legally, and it was ultimately set aside by the North Gauteng High Court.
R630 million was still paid to PEU for services rendered, and this bill is yet to be rectified, said Sakeliga.
According to Sakeliga, Ramokgopa originally went ahead with the PEU deal despite opposition parties and his own party’s bosses warning him against it.
“Ramokgopa left office as mayor amid an additional R2-billion debt burden on the municipality due to an illegal agreement for the installation and maintenance of electricity meters that he had signed off on,” Sakeliga said.
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