Massive leap in home affairs building rental

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The home affairs department is paying R33 million a year rental for its new Pretoria headquarters, more than one-and-a-half times what it previously paid for office space.

According to Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the new offices, located in the Hallmark Building in Pretoria's CBD, are costing her department about R1307 a square metre.

"The yearly rental is R33,195,583.80 (VAT inclusive); the floor space is 25,388.50 square metres," she said in a written reply to a parliamentary question, tabled on Monday.

Previously, the department had paid R25.7 million a year for 30,859 square metres of floor space. This is about R832 a square metre.

Home Affairs started moving from Waltloo, east of Pretoria, to the more central Hallmark Building late last year.

The Hallmark Building is owned by Manaka Property Investments (Pty) Ltd. According to the company's website (www.manaka.co.za) its chairman is Thaba Mufamadi. Mufamadi is a serving African National Congress MP, and chairman of Parliament's standing committee on finance.

On whether the department had invited tenders from property companies ahead of choosing Manaka, Dlamini-Zuma said in her reply on Monday that the department of public works was "responsible for the accommodation needs of government departments".

In November last year, home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said "at no stage did the department of home affairs have to deal with any aspect of the tendering processes, including the names of companies who have tendered... ."

The whole process had been handled by public works. Any suggestion that the department of home affairs had awarded a tender to ANC-connected business people "must be rejected with the contempt it deserves", Apleni said at the time.

Last month, Democratic Alliance MP Dion George said that over the eight-year lease period, home affairs would pay R60 million more to do business with Manaka compared to its previous lease agreement.

The evidence suggested home affairs was paying "inflated rates to politically-connected people" for their new building, he said in a statement issued at the time.

George noted that besides Mufamadi, who was the majority shareholder in Manaka, "other shareholders include Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale and the former chairman of the Limpopo tender board, Jannie Moolman".

According to reports, an amount of between R30 million and R60 million was spent on renovations to the Hallmark Building prior to home affairs moving in.

Source: SAPA

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