Eastern Cape departments are splurging almost R20,3-million a month on office rental, costing taxpayers over R243-million a year.
This rental figure has escalated by over R5-million, up from the R238 million paid in 2018.
This money could rather be spent on purchasing suitable buildings or constructing fit-for-purpose office space, which would insulate the departments from rising rental costs.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane confirmed that the bulk of the rental expenditure is in the Amathole region, which accounts for over R15-million of the R20,268 million monthly rental bills.
The Department of Health, for example, is renting office space at more than R1,8 million a month in Bhisho, while splitting a bill of just over R1-million a month with the Department of Education for offices in King Williams Town.
The Department of Human Settlements are also paying in excess of R1,5-million a month on office rental in East London.
[SEE: IQP 5 qq 111]
What is of further outrage is that the Bhisho Office precinct, hailed by the provincial government as an answer to excessive expenditure on office rentals, has proven to be another source of wasteful extravagance.
This project has been touted by the provincial government 2016, and to date the only people who have seen any benefit from it is the string of consultants who have been paid close on R50-million rand in fees.
This project cannot be allowed to turn into a scam, by default, whereby consultants are endlessly benefitting, without any construction taking place.
Last week the Premier once again issued a call for proposals for the development of new offices in Bhisho. This despite the fact that Public Works indicated that groundwork for the project was scheduled to begin in April this year.
The reality is the Eastern Cape cannot afford to waste any funds on providing office space at exorbitant and ever-climbing prices.
I have posed questions to the Premier to outline the current state of the Bhisho Precinct in order to ensure that it serves its intended purposes.
The people of the Eastern Cape deserve adequate hospital buildings, clinics and schools, not costly offices for officials.
The DA demands that the Premier show that government is serious about curbing wasteful expenditure and providing adequate service delivery for the people of this province.