Sexwale proposes state construction firm
THE Department of Human Settlements was considering establishing a state-owned construction company, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said yesterday, noting that when houses were built in the government housing programme, the department relied "by and large" on inexperienced shovel, wheelbarrow and bakkie brigades.
"Is it perhaps not time to establish a state-owned construction company? We at human settlements are exploring this idea together with (the Department of) Public Works," he said as he delivered his budget vote in Parliament yesterday.
The entry of a state construction company would come as a blow to SA's existing companies, which are battling for scarce contracts. Mr Sexwale said the department was a key player in the property market.
A recent study found that 1,44-million of the 6-million registered residential properties in the Deeds Registry were subsidised by the government, representing 24% of the total number of registered residential properties.
Mr Sexwale raised eyebrows when he said Limpopo was taking the lead in the fight against corruption in housing delivery. His statement came despite Limpopo having gained a reputation as "the most corrupt province" in SA. Some of its departments were placed under administration late last year.
Corruption, maladministration and fraud have been generally identified as the main obstacles in the government's drive to deliver housing to the poor.
Mr Sexwale said provinces were participating in the fight against corruption, with Limpopo taking the lead. He said 24 contractors in Limpopo had been blacklisted for shoddy workmanship, nondelivery and incompetence.
"More than R1m has already been recovered from these companies. These cases have also been referred to the Special Investigating Unit for further action," he said.
"The focus in our current investigations is on low-cost housing construction contracts. In this regard, more than 50 housing projects with the value of R4,2bn were identified. Over 40 investigations have been completed and 17 are ongoing."
He went on to paint an impressive picture in the fight against corrupt public servants. He said more than 290 were arrested, more than 240 found guilty and more than 220 were facing internal disciplinary action. Nearly R30m lost through corrupt activities had been recovered.
He said Thami Mpotulo, the former chief director of the national sanitation programme, had been found guilty of dereliction of duty and improper conduct. She has since been dismissed.
Mr Sexwale said Sipho Mashinini, suspended CEO of the National Home Builders Registration Council, had been found guilty of financial misconduct. "The presiding chairperson of the inquiry . recommended a summary dismal."
The council is a statutory body created to protect housing consumers against unscrupulous home builders and manage a warranty fund in the event of claims by home owners against builders who do not fulfil their obligations.
Mr Sexwale also said Vanessa Somiah, the former South African Police Service detective and a prominent Special Investigating Unit investigator who was "irregularly" employed at the council by Mr Mashinini, had been dismissed from her position on the board with immediate effect.
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