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