Minister Zikalala likes a party – at taxpayers’ expense

Issued by Madeleine Hicklin MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure
11 Jul 2023 in News
  • Minister Sihle Zikalala hosted a gala dinner, “celebrating a successful Budget Vote Debate”, that cost taxpayers R132 457.60.
  • The event, attended by 130 guests including ANC cadres, was boycotted by members of the DA.
  • This fruitless and wasteful expenditure comes at a time when over 7 million vulnerable South Africans are out of work.

Please find attached a soundbite by Madeleine Hicklin MP.

On 23 May 2023, Minister Sihle Zikalala hosted a Gala Dinner at the Cresta Grand Hotel in Cape Town, to celebrate the ‘successful Budget Vote Debate’ held earlier that day in Parliament – and taxpayers had to settle the hefty R132 457.60 bill.

This was revealed in answers I received to questions posed to the Minister who, since his appointment as the Minister of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on 06 March, had only made one appearance in a Portfolio Committee Meeting – that on 22 March, the day before the Budget Vote in Parliament.

Answers revealed that 130 guests were hosted at the lavish affair, made up of members of the Portfolio Committee, the Audit Committee and “key stakeholders such as entities, professional councils, identified beneficiaries of EPWP projects, young professionals and bursary holders”. In short, ANC Cadres.

To add insult to injury, Minister Zikalala did not even hear the keynote address – delivered by DA Western Cape Provincial Minister of Infrastructure, Tertius Simmers – as he arrived at the function late and was busy with interviews in another room while the address was being delivered.

Simmers did not stay for the dinner, leaving straight after his address.

Both DA members of the Portfolio Committee boycotted the event, but all the ANC members of the Portfolio Committee attended the affair.

The DA can confirm that the allocation was made out of the Good and Services line item in the budget – at a time when over R4.4 billion in stalled infrastructure projects were either abandoned completely or put on hold by the DPWI and/or its clients due to construction company incapacities over the past 12 months.

These include projects at the DPWI’s head office; SAPS offices countrywide; the Department of Defence; the Department of Defence & Military Veterans, and the Department of Justice – to name a few.

Projects included refurbishments of Magistrates Courts and Police Stations (both major and minor refurbishments); water and sewer treatment programmes at Zonderwater, Thaba Tshwane and Wallmansthal reservoirs; as well as electricity and perimeter lighting interventions in Polokwane.

This fruitless and wasteful expenditure also comes at a time when over 7 million vulnerable South Africans are out of work, and a further 7,4 million South Africans receive a Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant of only R350.00 per month.

More than 716 000 tertiary institution graduates applied for an SRD grant in February 2023 because they were unable to find work or feed themselves and their families.

Once again, the ANC has shown itself to be totally deaf to the real hardships of ordinary South Africans.

This uncaring Government is more concerned about the fact that attendees to the dinner had to pay for their own alcohol at the cash bar, than to the fact that millions of jobs were cancelled by abandoned projects and by a Minister and a Department more interested in partying than in capacitating a sector that could be one of the biggest drivers of job creation in the country.

Much like his predecessor, Minister de Lille, Minister Zikalala looks set to fail spectacularly in the performance of his duties. He is more interested in conducting personal oversights without consulting his Portfolio Committee and relevant stakeholders, travelling the world securing contracts with Chinese companies than exercising effective leadership that is inclusive and meaningful, and tackling problems in the Department that is floundering, resulting in under-delivery and non-performance by officials and senior management.

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