The Eastern Cape Government spends R13.5 million a month to rent buildings to accommodate the various departments around the province.

The practice is not sustainable in the long term, especially for critical departments such as Health and Education already being under funded. Service delivery is suffering because budgets are being swallowed by a bloated administration. Up to 80% of budgets in departments are being spent on personnel. We cannot allow that other costs, such as rentals, eat into the budget more than it should.

According to a reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu, some of the monthly rentals include:

• R283 597.74 per month for 2 000m² for Department of Health in Aliwal-North;

• R311 466.24 per month for 218m² for Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in East London;

• R1 234 000.37 per month for 8 000m² for the Department of Housing in East London;

• R1 800 401.90 per month for 13 113m² for Departments of Social Development and Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in Schonville.

The manner in which rentals are managed needs some reflection. I have written to the MEC to ascertain how many buildings that the administration is paying rent for are in fact standing half-empty or unoccupied. I have also asked her whether the rentals that we are paying are market related.

The government must ensure that it is getting the best deal s and value for money. We cannot continue to pour taxpayer’s money into a bottomless pit.

Of further concern is the fact that a number of buildings in the former Transkei and Ciskei are yet to be claimed back by the government. This has led to private individuals using the buildings for their own benefit, rent free.

I have therefore requested the MEC for an audit of such buildings.

We have to be clever with our limited funding to ensure that no money is wasted and that everything is utilised to the benefit of our communities through effective service delivery.