Quote of the week

This is a book of desire denied, of what the pain of that impotence drives people to do, and how it makes them unwilling contortionists and even co-conspirators in their oppression. From ‘The Transformation of Harry’: “And there we all were; in an uncertain country, ourselves uncertain. A land with a sly heart; and ourselves ready to be deceived.” For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening. First published in 1978, The House of Hunger speaks, or rather shouts, forward from its own time to 2017. Perhaps the most painful parts of the book to read are those that show how little has changed in thirty-nine years. For if colonialism was any one thing it was denial: denial of land, denial of African culture, denial of any form of psychic nourishment—including hope—denial of black existence itself. And neocolonialism is the denial that any of that is still happening.

Efemia Chela
On The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera
20 October 2011

Money is not an issue (so let them eat cake)

I am not an architect nor am I a building contractor. But maybe I should have become one because it seems one can make quite a good living in one of these professions — as long as one knows somebody in the Department of Public Works. I post below details of the cost incurred by that Department to renovate/upgrade/improve/secure/gild/make-inhabitable-for-a-regent/palace-ify/posh-up the various residences of the President of South Africa. The total cost ran into almost R400 million.

Now R400 million is quite a bit of money. I would guess the most expensive house in Cape Town can be bought for around R25 million, so the “renovations” would have been able to buy 16 of the most expensive houses in South Africa. It gives new meaning to the phrase “money is no object”. (Well, maybe money is an object for those South Africans whose children went to bed hungry last night, but let us not be churlish here — it is the President of South Africa we are talking about and he deserves the best!)

It reminds me of the Vandal’s Song by that same name:

Money’s Not An Issue lyrics
Well I know you been working most nights
And I think you deserve something nice for once, you do
And the twins they’ve been driving you nuts
But tonight your in luck. Guess what, Here’s what-

Hey Babe we’re going out tonight
were finally gonna do it right
No more pinching pennies with a broke ass loser
I’ve had a change of luck, I found the twenty bucks
I thought I lost under the sofa
I’m feeling like a hundredaire and baby I just don’t care
Where we go or what we spend
So grab your friends – cuz
Money’s not a issue tonight

Hey baby were going out tonight
just bring your appetite for luxury and fun cuz
Money’s not an issue
Go on baby now make a wish
I’m feeling Irish rich
I found me pot o’ gold and living large, it fits you
Feel free to super size
cuz tonight dreams are realized

I know that’s it’s been rough
and you don’t get the stuff
That such a pretty lady is so deserving of
but now that’s not the case
I’ll shower your sweet face with
Champagne dreams and Moustache kisses
I’m well aware that I’ve been kind of cheap and tight
but all that’s changed and were going to do it right
so tell your friends that-
Money’s not an issue tonight

I post details of the cost incurred below to provide an objective and factual basis on which readers can rely in case they might think that this money was wasted. I for one believe the money was well spent. After all, one would not want to begrudge our President these few luxuries which we all really should be entitled to. Although I am already hearing the cries from the radicals and the communists (Blade, are you there?): “Nevermind Wallstreet: Occupy Mahlamba Ndlopfu!”

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

QUESTION 1150 01 APRIL 2011

1150. THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (DA) to ask the Minister of Public Works: What is the cost breakdown of the R191 million allocated for the refurbishment of Mahlamba Ndlopfu with regard to (a) interior refurbishment, (b) furniture and (c) any other specified renovations?

REPLY:

(a) The cost for interior refurbishment is estimated at R168,762,018.71

(b) No new or additional furniture will be procured. The current furniture will be retained.

(c) 1. Specialised Services:

– Upgrading of security measures including escape routes.

– Installation of new electronic security surveillance system.

– Construction of new security perimeter fence according to SAPS security report.

– Upgrading the Access Control Measures.

– Installation of Fire Detection System.

– Installation of Intercom and danger warning system (PA system).

(c) 2. Issues of Restoration:

– Wooden windows.

– Wooden doors.

– Balustrades on balconies and stairways.

– Restoration of fireplaces.

– Restoration of chandeliers.

– Restoration of all wooden elements internally including cupboards, ceiling, floors to the original form as per South African Heritage Resource Authority (SAHRA) recommendations.

(c) 3. Scope of Work for Recreation Area:

– Attention to the swimming pool.

– Construction of changing facilities.

– Construction of Sauna / steam room.

(c) 4. General Upgrade of the External:

– Construction of screens between main house and visitor’s entrance.

– Paving for paths & roads in consideration of disabled persons (non slippery).

– New gates for visitors.

– Installation of lights along walk ways and drive ways.

(c) 5. Compliance Challenges:

– The residence utilizes a gas stove for cooking and the existing gas cylinders storage does not comply with regulations.

– A new gas cylinder storage facility will be constructed to address the challenge.

(c) 6. Information Technology Network:

– Fitting of Server Room to address Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC).

– Network points to every room necessary.

– Network points to study room.

– Data for telephones, etc.

(c) 7. Sanitary Fittings:

– All necessary sanitary fittings will be fitted.

(c) 8. Energy Saving Plan:

– The residence will utilize solar energy for heating of water.

– The lighting application will save energy.

– Kitchen will utilize only liquid petroleum (LP) Gas for cooking.

And another question:

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

QUESTION 1149 01 APRIL 2011

1149. THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION (DA) to ask the Minister of Public Works:

How (a) did her department determine the amount of R365 million to be allocated for the upgrading of the Bryntirion Estate and (b) is such an expenditure on an upgrade justified?

REPLY:

(a) The Department appointed a Professional Team to conduct a condition survey at Bryntirion Estate and they provided a master plan with a report with proposed project that needed to be executed at the Estate to improve its current status and also the security measures. These projects were proposed with estimate amounts to the Department as per the table below:

PROJECTS BUDGET ESTIMATE

Gate 1,2,4 & 5 R13 299 058.00

Outer boundary fence R19 768 863.00

Gate 1,2 & dog unit R25 723 399.00

Generator room and main substation R15 000 000.00

Fence R42 000 000.00

Electrical reticulation R22 000 000.00

Eastern road R55 000 000.00

TOTAL ESTIMATED COST: R192 791 320.00

It must be noted that the above estimated costs have been checked and verified by our departmental professional team prior to approval.

(b) It is the market that determines the construction cost. The Department invites tenders for their projects based on the estimated amounts provided by the Professional Team appointed on aparticular project.

And yet another reply. (Am I the only one feeling sorry for the President after noting that the Department of Public Works were responsible for the interior design. Ag shame man, what happened to the idea of getting in a professional designer? I shudder to think how many shades of ugly the Department came up with when it did those designs.)

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

QUESTION 653 07 MARCH 2011

653. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the Minister of Public Works:

(1) What has been the total cost of renovations to the President’s Tuynhuys (a) residence and (b) office;

(2) what has been the total cost of (a) the furniture purchased for the President’s office at Tuynhuys and (b) any interior designers involved with the refurbishment of the office? NW699E

Reply

The renovations in the Presidency, which were undertaken by the Department in the past three financial years, were not only for the President’s physical office but the support staff as well.

1. (a) The total cost for renovations at Genadendal is R 13,5 Million

(b) The total cost for renovations to the President’s Office is

R 24, 4 Million

2. (a) Furniture costs: R 778,000.00

(b) Interior design was planned and executed by the Department

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