The Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala says he has noted with concern reports of government employees who are defaulting and refusing to pay rent on state-owned properties.
According to a statement, the Minister’s Office is currently rolling out initiatives aimed at addressing challenges within the multi-billion rand property portfolio and assets belonging to government.
This problem, according to the Ministry, was first reported by the Public Works and Roads Department in the North West.
“The Minister has since ordered the Property and Asset Management Unit within the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to conduct a comprehensive analysis on the occupation of state-owned properties occupied by employees across all provinces and to establish if they are honouring their obligations and paying their rentals.”
The report, once completed, will be presented to the MINMEC, a platform where the Minister meets with provincial MECs responsible for Public Works and Infrastructure.
“We need to establish how widespread this problem is in the country. We take a dim view of such practices of non-payment and illegal occupation of government-owned properties.
“The revenue from rentals is used for maintenance and renovations of such properties,” Zikalala explained.
As part of the in-depth investigations, the Minister said they will work with provinces to establish how much is owed by individuals who are tenants in these properties.
“We will also establish whether the occupants also include state employees, ascertain if they are the registered owners of the houses and investigate actions within the law that can be preferred against defaulting individuals or state employees. The team will also present policy options including whether some cannot be sold to prevent vandalism and further illegal occupation,” Zikalala added.
North West Public Works and Roads MEC, Gaoage Molapisi, this week called on all government employees residing in state houses to pay for their stay or face eviction.
Molapisi made the call during an Executive Management Committee (EMC) meeting, where it was reported that among the challenges confronting the department is the inability to collect revenue at state-owned properties due to the refusal to pay by tenants.
Molapisi said the maintenance of state properties, including renovations and ensuring that the state receives revenue collected from rental and usage of these properties, remains government’s responsibility.
“We must therefore do this diligently and without fail. It is disingenuous for government employees to have a sense of entitlement to government-owned properties to such an extent that they refuse to pay for rental fees, water and electricity,” Molapisi said.