Cape Town - The public works department is to launch an
amnesty campaign to reclaim "lost and/or missing" immovable state
assets, Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde said on Wednesday.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on her
budget vote, she said the Government Immovable Asset Management Act compelled
the department to facilitate the provision of accommodation and monitor the
performance of the state's immovable assets and maximising its value.
The department also remained committed to providing
lifecycle immovable asset management planning based on credible portfolio and
property analyses, she said.
"In this regard, allow me to add emphasis to an
increasing need to build sufficient capacity for the continuous management and
enhancement of the immovable asset register.
"To this end, we will soon launch the amnesty campaign
aptly named Operation Bring Back in order to encourage South Africans to
reclaim lost and/or missing immovable assets.
"These properties we believe were insincerely wrested
from the state in the turbulent transitional period following the demise of
apartheid and were being unlawfully occupied," Mahlangu-Nkabinde said.
The significance of state-owned real estate as a major
revenue generator for government could not be overemphasised.
Upon recovery, these properties would either enhance the
disposal programme or contribute positively to the inner city regeneration
The leasing portfolio was costing the state a lot of money.
The department had in the past year spent billions on leases and functional
accommodation for client departments.
Investment in repair and maintenance, continuous maintenance
and construction of new government buildings could generate major savings for
the state, "a process we will be embarking on in the (next) three
This would also include ensuring the relocation of national
departments to state-owned buildings where it was feasible to do so.
"We acknowledge that our lease portfolio will take a
while to reduce but in the interim, the department will continue to find ways
to structure its current leases such that the socioeconomic goals of government
are realised including black, women and youth economic empowerment.
"With regard to our own stock, we shall invoke the
national infrastructure maintenance strategy and the national contractor
development programme to target investment in this sector much to the benefit
of our small and emerging contractors," she said.
Linked to leasing management was the rehabilitation of
under-utilised and unutilised public buildings for alternative usage
With many tertiary students around the country being exposed
to sub-standard accommodation, albeit at high cost, the department and higher
education department decided to convert under-utilised buildings to provide
affordable student accommodation where possible.
In Tshwane, the upgrading and refurbishment of the HG De
Witt building would yield accommodation for about 180 students. In
Bloemfontein, the upgrading and refurbishment of the Pelonomi Hospital would
yield accommodation for about 700 students.
Through this intervention, the department was looking to
alleviate the lack of decent student accommodation while also creating jobs,