Up to R5m to be spent on security at Mbeki's retirement house

Date: 06 Sep 2006
Between R3-million and R5-million - that is what the Department of Public Works told parliament it will spend on security for the president's retirement home in Johannesburg. The information was contained in a "memorandum by the minister of public works setting out particulars of the building programme for 2006/07" tabled in parliament earlier this year. Few spotted it either before or after an article by noseweek investigative magazine and a controversial on-site inspection led by Democratic Alliance chief whip Douglas Gibson. Gibson said the visit was aimed at finding out the cost to the South African taxpayer, resulting in a major row and accusations of invasion of the president and first lady's privacy and calls for him to apologise. In the ensuing row, neither the government, the Department of Public Works or the DA itself referred to the report tabled in parliament. Nor did MPs themselves, during yesterday's fiery National Assembly debate on the issue, in which Gibson was criticised by the ANC and the majority of opposition parties in the house. The ANC yesterday moved a motion without notice in which it hoped to censure Gibson. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel was among the heavy-hitters who criticised the DA, telling the party it had received a groot klap (big smack) from all the other political parties, who believed the DA had gone overboard. External repairs at Oliver Tambo House, the deputy president's official residence in Pretoria - although she currently lives in her private residence in Sandton - will total between R300 000 and R2-million, with a similar amount for security. Ministerial residences will also receive a security upgrade totalling between R2-million and R5-million. By Angela Quintal The Star 06/09/06