Lease deal scrutiny must confront corruption

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National Treasury's review of 3,000 government leases, as announced in the national Budget Speech, is an opportunity to confront the corruption that has become endemic in the negotiation of these contracts, says DA MP Dion George. National Treasury's review of 3,000 government leases, as announced in the national Budget Speech, is an opportunity to confront the corruption that has become endemic in the negotiation of these contracts, says DA MP Dion George.

Stewart Property

National Treasury's review of 3,000 government leases is an opportunity to confront the corruption, says the DA MP Dion George.

National Treasury's review of 3,000 government leases, as announced in the national Budget Speech, is an opportunity to confront the corruption that has become endemic in the negotiation of these contracts, says the Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dion George.

George who is his party's member on Parliament's influential Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) said on Wednesday that the opportunity could be lost if National Treasury was not willing to act decisively on the case load of irregularities it is likely to find.

The number of questionable leases signed on behalf of various government departments with politically connected business people has caused George to dub the ongoing saga as "leasegate."

Specific leases that have become public and George said needed to be dealt with decisively were the lease for the building of the Department of Health which is costing the taxpayer R62 million per year, but makes no provision for maintenance of the building; the R265.5 million Home Affairs lease deal that will benefit Parliament's Finance Committee chairperson Thaba Mufamadi and which is 57% more expensive per square metre than the contract for the Department's previous building; the infamous R1.7 billion police leasing scandals; and the R84 million paid for an empty building earmarked for occupation by the Department of Justice.

"We will monitor the leasegate review process closely and will use all available parliamentary channels to advocate for the process to adhere to certain requirements," he said.

George said participants in the review process must be chosen in a transparent and even-handed manner.

"We will be asking the minister of finance questions to determine who will partake in the process," George said.

He said there had to be regular feedback on the progress and findings of the review to Parliament and SCOPA.

"The review must have a clear timeline. We will thus be asking the minister to clarify the envisioned deadline for completion," George said.

He said that specific attention must be paid to adherence to proper tender procedures in the allocation of lease contracts. Where these were not followed, the responsible parties must be held to account.

George said the shareholding of public representatives in companies benefitting from lease deals must be scrutinised.

"Where conflicts of interest were not sufficiently declared, the parliamentary ethics committee has to intervene. Where the independence of parliamentary oversight committees is compromised by the involvement of individuals benefitting from lucrative state contracts, steps must be taken to restore the credibility of these committees," George said.


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