MPs send ill-informed public works officials packing

Newly-elected public works portfolio committee chairperson Humphrey Mmemezi did not waste any time asserting his authority at his first meeting‚ sending a group of department officials packing for giving an uninspiring presentation.

Department officials were read the riot act by Mmemezi after some MPs voiced their displeasure at not having a detailed briefing on the department’s multi-million rand prestige property portfolio‚ which deals with the maintenance of ministerial houses and parliamentary villages that house lawmakers.

Instead‚ the officials‚ led by acting director general Sam Vukela‚ gave a brief presentation on parliamentary villages and maintenance work happening in the parliamentary precinct. The officials had no figures and details on the costs.

“The cries of the members are something that should not happen. If you don’t act when you are new you will never act. You had been requested to (provide) detailed reports on this area and that area. You avoided everything. Your report is also not detailing what you know. Even the budget must be there. I am of the view that indeed you owe us another meeting. You owe us a detailed report‚” said Mmemezi.

He said some of the officials were “not serious“.

 “You’ve just wasted a lot of money. You just played with the people’s money. Your verbal answers won’t help us. Problems won’t run away because you’re running away. Let’s let the department go with all your questions. We want more information and more clarity. Clearly you are not serious‚” said Mmemezi.

He said the committee would summon minister Nathi Nhleko and his deputy Jeremy Cronin.

 ANC MP Freddie Adams added his unhappiness‚ saying the committee had been done a “disservice” by officials.

 “When we sent out the invite we wanted to know about Prestige programme‚ not focus on parliamentary villages and parliament‚ but also on the ministerial houses and Fernwood (ministerial estate) as well. There’s nothing in this document that contains that. So I think they’ve really taken a short cut and they done a disservice to this committee‚” said Adams.

 He said MPs were interested in information and specifications of ministers’ houses which are bought “but still want renovations of R5-million or R10-million“.

“And you come and dump this type of report in front of us and think we’ll be happy with that‚” said Adams.