Con­struc­tion of lid­lokolo sus­pended, amid mourn­ing of PM’s death

Observer on Saturday - - News - Bodwa Mbingo

Works at the con­struc­tion of de­ceased for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Dr Sibu­siso Dlamini’s re­tire­ment home in the form of a man­sion now pop­u­larly known as lid­lokolo have been sus­pended, amid the mourn­ing of his death.

This was con­firmed dur­ing a visit by the Ob­server on Sat­ur­day to the project site this week as works were sus­pended with the gate to the site locked.

Ben­e­fit

This has been done, pre­sum­ably, to give time to the mourn­ing pe­riod of the for­mer prime min­is­ter who will be laid to rest at his parental home at Ndzin­geni next Sat­ur­day where he will be ac­corded a state fu­neral.

In a move that shocked the coun­try’s tax­pay­ers, gov­ern­ment ef­fected huge bud­get cuts and sus­pended what could be de­scribed as key na­tional cap­i­tal projects in favour of lid­lokolo that would ben­e­fit one in­di­vid­ual. Gov­ern­ment ap­proved that the con­struc­tion of the PM’s re­tire­ment home would go ahead with­out any bud­get ad­just­ment, down or up, yet some schools would be left with­out fur­ni­ture, toi­lets and desks be­cause of the credit crunch rav­aging the coun­try.

From sus­pend­ing the nu­mer­ous projects, two months back, gov­ern­ment planned to save over E560 mil­lion.

On the other hand, the con­struc­tion of the prime min­is­ter’s re­tire­ment home has most of­ten hit a raw nerve among tax­pay­ers, in­clud­ing Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPs), who re­cently va­cated of­fice af­ter His Majesty the King dis­solved Par­lia­ment dur­ing Sibaya on June 20.

Fol­low­ing a heated de­bate in the House of As­sem­bly where the MPs wanted to re­duce money al­lo­cated to­wards the project from E5.5 mil­lion to E3 mil­lion, the PM on March 13, showed all and sundry that he was not will­ing to go down with­out a fight. On the day he, at length, de­bated why he de­served the re­tire­ment home.

He went as far as in­clud­ing the King’s name, which he said had even al­lo­cated the piece of land where the house would be con­structed.

De­signs

He said in the lo­ca­tion which had been ap­proved by the King, there was no house that was un­der E10 mil­lion. Dlamini said he would, how­ever, not state which lo­ca­tion it was for now.

“Angeke kube lid­lokolo (the house will not be a shack or sub­stan­dard),” said Dlamini then.

The PM, who was speak­ing in a very shaky voice, which got the leg­is­la­tors wor­ried, said he de­served the house be­cause those were the pro­vi­sions of Fi­nance Cir­cu­lar No.2 of 2013.

The bone of con­tention be­tween the PM and the MPs had been that the lat­ter wanted to re­duce the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of E5.5 mil­lion of the house to E3 mil­lion.

Then Nk­wene MP Sikhum­buzo Dlamini had said the house was too ex­pen­sive, par­tic­u­larly since the de­signs alone were E1.5 mil­lion.

How­ever, the PM said those were the pro­vi­sions of Cir­cu­lar No. 2, which he de­served for a man in his po­si­tion. He said dur­ing the Ninth Par­lia­ment, there was Fi­nance Cir­cu­lar No.1 of 2010, which had been cre­ated by Cab­i­net, how­ever, dur­ing one of Sibaya meet­ings, the na­tion called for its re­moval.

“The res­o­lu­tion was that a Royal Com­mis­sion be put in place by the King which he duly did and they came up with the new con­di­tions of ser­vice,” ar­gued the PM.

Dlamini said the new Cir­cu­lar stip­u­lated that the PM must be re­spected and that when he va­cated of­fice, he must be con­structed a house, be ac­corded a car, which would be filled up by gov­ern­ment and pen­sion.

It then be­came ap­par­ent on March 19, that the prime min­is­ter would even­tu­ally get E3 mil­lion from the bud­get af­ter the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans even­tu­ally passed the bud­get that was less E2.5 mil­lion of the sought E5.5 mil­lion for his re­tire­ment home. The E5.5 mil­lion had been al­lo­cated for this fi­nan­cial year, but the leg­is­la­tors were adamant that they would be giv­ing the pre­mier E3 mil­lion in­stead.

This is de­spite the fact that the PM had fought tooth and nail the pre­vi­ous week as he jus­ti­fied why he de­served the home.

Chair­per­son of the PM’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee, ap­pointed MP Thuli Dladla, had tried but in vain to con­vince the leg­is­la­tors that the E5.5 mil­lion should be al­lo­cated for the con­struc­tion of the PM’s house.

She asked her col­leagues to agree to set­ting aside the E2.5 mil­lion un­der Head 60 so that it would be used to fin­ish off the house should there be short­ages.

Dladla had said ac­cord­ing to the draw­ings al­ready made and the quan­tity surveyors re­port, the to­tal amount needed would be E5.5 mil­lion, in­clud­ing cer­tain ad­just­ments that may be needed. How­ever, the MPs were adamant that all they were al­lo­cat­ing was E3 mil­lion, which would to­tal E4.5 mil­lion when in­clud­ing the draw­ings, which were al­lo­cated last fi­nan­cial year.

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