Thousands remain homeless while millions are spent on luxury housing for MPLs

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

While many people in Mpumalanga are living in extreme poverty, without adequate housing, the provincial government is spending millions on over-the-top, luxurious residences for Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPL).

Following a DA written question to the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport, it has been established that the provincial government is spending more than R500 000 a month on MPL residences. One unit is costing government more than R40 000 per month while six are going at more than R30 000. Four houses are being rented for over R20 000, eight for over 10 000 and six – two of which are for opposition MPLs – are being rented at under R10 000. This equates to a whopping R6,1 million per annum.

Furthermore, millions are being forked out on lavish furniture for the 25 MPL dwellings, and since 2009 a whopping R4,2 million has been spent to furnish them. This equals to an average spend of R144 000 per house over the last five years.

Although the Mpumalanga members’ facility handbook provides for housing to members who live outside a radius of 50km from the Legislature, without specifying a rental amount limit, it is unfathomable that government is willing to spend so much on luxury housing for its own, while thousands are still living below in abject poverty.

The DA finds it totally unacceptable that so much money is being spent on housing for public servants and has called for an end to this practice.

The development of a parliamentary village could be the answer to this dilemma, but although numerous discussions on such a development have taken place, the idea has been put on hold. According to the Provincial Legislature – which is responsible to source funds for such a project – the initiative has been estimated to cost R148 million and is therefore unaffordable. This equates to an average of R4,9 million per unit – which the DA finds absurd.

The DA believes that more effort needs to be put into finding reasonably priced housing for MPLs – be it through acquiring cheaper rentals or the establishment of a reasonably priced parliamentary village. We also call for amendments to be made to the members’ facility book pertaining to the capping of housing rentals for members.

With thousands still living in shacks, back gardens and even on the streets, it is preposterous that most MPLs are living in the lap of luxury at the cost of taxpayers. Such money would be better spent in improving the lives of our communities through the speeding-up of housing delivery, and curbing the ever-increasing housing backlog.