Why is MEC protecting defaulting ECDC tenants

Issued by Nqaba Bhanga, MPL
DA EC Provincial Leader

Serious questions need to be asked of Department for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) MEC, Mlungisi Mvoko, who refuses to reveal details of tenants that owe his Department millions in unpaid rent.

In response to a parliamentary question relating to properties owned and operated by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), which falls under his Department, MEC Mvoko revealed that rental billing for the second quarter of the current financial year (July to September) was R58,522 million, while collections were only R42,876 million.

This means that, collectively, R15,646 million in rental income has been lost in one quarter! This is simply unacceptable!

The MEC refused to disclose who the individual tenants of the buildings were, or how much they each owed the ECDC.

Download response

The MEC’s refusal to reveal these details is of great concern. These are government buildings, and the MEC must account.

What is he hiding? Are these ANC cadres, given the use of state buildings at no cost?

MEC Mvoko also revealed that of the 1 069 properties owned by ECDC, 451 were vacant as of the end of September 2022. That is a vacancy rate of over 42%.

The high vacancy rate leaves these buildings vulnerable to vandalism and hijacking. Many of these buildings are already in a bad state, with reports indicating buildings have roof sheeting, side sheeting, fittings and in some cases even the structural steel elements removed.

MEC Mvoko said buildings most affected by vandalism were in the Dimbaza, Butterworth and Fort Jackson industrial parks.

The DA will be lodging a PAIA application to obtain the list of current and previous tenants occupying ECDC properties, as well as the current and historic debt, per tenant.

In the current economic climate, the ECDC cannot afford millions of rand to go uncollected. If DEDEAT is determined to grow its property portfolio, it needs to put corrective measures in place to ensure that the properties it owns are generating income for the benefit of the people of this province.

Properties standing vacant, and those occupied by tenants who fail to meet their rental obligations, are nothing more than white elephants, empty monuments to funds that could have been better spent to improve the lives of the people.