KZN government slams ‘malicious’ DA claim it spent R2.2m on PPE for unbuilt library

Gill Gifford Senior journalist
The KZN arts and culture department has been accused of spending R2.2m on personal protective equipment for construction workers building a library. Stock photo.
The KZN arts and culture department has been accused of spending R2.2m on personal protective equipment for construction workers building a library. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Oksana Smyshliaeva

The KwaZulu-Natal arts and culture department has lashed out at the DA and denied it spent more than R2.2m on personal protective equipment (PPE) for a library that hadn’t yet been built.

The department said it had spent just over R370,000 on protective gear for construction workers building on Dukuduku Library. It said the project was on track and was “expected to be completed by the end of the year”.

Department spokesperson Phathisa Mfuyo was responding to allegations by Bradley Singh, the DA’s spokesperson on arts and culture in the province, who claimed at the weekend that the PPE spend was much higher.

Singh claimed R2.2m had been paid. He raised the matter in a parliamentary question on June 30, and gave arts and culture MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela seven days to respond.

The department initially said it would respond through the legislature, but has has since decided to hit back, and described Sing’s allegations as “malicious and inaccurate”. It said  R377,080 had been spent on “PPE and related equipment for the Dukuduku Library construction site”.

Singh said R32.1m was budgeted for the construction of the Dukudu Library in Mtubatuba. The project was set to begin in March 2019 and end in March 2022, but the deadline was expected to be delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far R6.5m of the budget has been spent.

Mfuyo said the PPE spending “was part of the variation order for the project which arose due to the unprecedented pandemic” and was a contractor claim the department had authorised. 

“After due consideration, the invoice was honoured by the department to ensure the building of the library is finished on time and for the contractor to go back on site and ensure there were no further delays,” she said.

“The construction of the Dukuduku Library is on track.”

Singh was unfazed by the department’s denial. He said he had evidence to support his claims. He said he was waiting for the reply to his parliamentary appeal for a proper explanation and details on what amounts had been spent and who would be called to account if there had been any wrongdoing.

“I will be going to a police station to charge them if I don’t get a response by [Thursday] July 8,” he told TimesLIVE.

TimesLIVE

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