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Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

FF Plus has misgivings about Zikalala’s “Operation Bring Back”

The FF Plus has misgivings about the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure’s, Sihle Zikalala, programme to recover buildings that were stolen or unlawfully transferred and occupied.

According to the Minister, a process to recover approximately 1 260 of the 29 000 buildings reflected in the Department’s asset register which are currently occupied will soon get underway.

What the Minister failed to mention was that 1 399 buildings out of the total of 66 115 buildings owned by government are not being used.

The FF Plus warned government to start managing its assets better numerous times in Parliament. After all, they rightfully belong to the country’s taxpayers.

When buildings are left vacant, illegal occupants and looters take over, significantly decreasing the buildings’ value and many are subsequently demolished as a result of the extensive damage.

The poor condition of government buildings is a symptom of an inadequate and ineffective maintenance programme as well as a lack of proper asset management.

It does not only result in a loss of revenue for the Department, but also means that eventually taxpayers will have to pay the price.

It appears that the Department’s asset register is not up to date and the FF Plus doubts that government even knows the location of all its buildings and land.

The Department also seems to be struggling to identify various properties that are still registered in the previous ruling party’s name as well as in the name of the old TBVC states, Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei.

This creates an enormous problem and results in incidents such as the one that recently transpired in Johannesburg where dozens of people were killed in a fire that broke out in an occupied building.

Although this building did not belong to government, according to reports, the tragedy ought to serve as a wake-up call for government to start doing proper maintenance on its own assets and get its asset register up to date as soon as possible.

The FF Plus concurs that government should recover its captured buildings, but the problem is that there is very little information available about “Operation Bring Back”. How the programme will be implemented remains unclear, and there is the possibility that it is no more than lip service.

The Department and government should never have allowed such disorder to take root in South Africa in the first place, and must now shoulder the blame for the situation.

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