Race-based leasing policy possible smokescreen for tenders to the politically connected

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for Public Works

The race-based policy for office leases, announced by the MEC of Public Works, Babalo Madikizela, during the tabling of his department’s budget in the EC legislature yesterday, is unconstitutional and possibly nothing more than a smokescreen to enrich politically connected individuals.

The Democratic Alliance agrees that the province should give preference to Eastern Cape owned, managed and controlled landlords, in order to benefit the economy of the province. The DA also supports the notion that government must stake steps to redress the divisions of the past, but this cannot be done by simply excluding a portion of the population.

The DA believes that South Africa needs a radically different approach to redress. By excluding individuals from even tendering for contracts, based on race, is in direct contravention of the equality clause of the constitution.

What is most concerning however, is the motivation behind the announcement, and the DA will be keeping a hawk’s eye view on who will be getting these leases.

The MEC needs to be focusing on projects such as the Bhisho Precinct, which would reduce the need for office rentals for several departments altogether, freeing up much needed capital that could be redirected to service delivery.

This project, which has already cost taxpayers more than R50-million, has been dragging on for years and is still nowhere near finalisation.

The Democratic Alliance believes in an equal opportunity society for all. This can be achieved by levelling the playing field and addressing inequalities of opportunity, rather than focusing on equality of outcomes.

The DA demands that MEC Madikizela must amend the leasing policy to be in line with the constitution, and ensure that the tenders are accessible to all.