Graham-Mare said the department was also paying scant attention to the steadily worsening state of its properties.
“Not only are they being vandalised and falling into disrepair, but they are also devaluing the neighbouring properties of private citizens as well as affecting the safety, security, and quality of life of the communities in which the properties are located,” she said.
Rejecting De Lille’s budget, the EFF’s Naledi Chirwa said the department was hoarding land for no apparent reasons.
Chirwa said in 2019 the department reported that there were 3,653 agricultural state land parcels available for redistribution, and the extent of these land parcels was about 2.9-million hectares.
“Today, most of this land is still lying fallow, and the department has done absolutely nothing to ensure that the land gets released for productive purposes to those black people who need it,” she said.
She criticised the department for leasing property from private entities on behalf of other government departments, paying millions every month for functions that it should be performing on its own.
Among the leased properties are police stations and other strategic key points for the state, she said. “If we cannot build our own police stations to secure the country, what purpose does this department serve?”
Chirwa said the most horrific of the department’s failures was the inability to maintain a proper register of its assets.
“Across the country, there are thousands of state buildings owned by the department that are thoroughly dilapidated, with no hope of ever being fixed because the department has no record of them.
She said as the department was the custodian of expropriation legislation and even though the Expropriation Bill is yet to be passed into law, there was nothing stopping the department from expropriating land and building, even at a price.
“There are literally thousands of derelict buildings across the country that could be expropriated and refurbished for student accommodation and to be used as houses for the homeless,” said Chirwa.
The ANC appeared to be happy with De Lille.
Chair of the DPWI portfolio committee Nolitha Ntobongwana (ANC) said De Lille and her deputy Noxolo Kiviet have introduced a culture of change in the department and its entities.
“This culture of change has equally been reinforced by a process of heightened oversight by the portfolio committee. This has also been focus of the sixth parliament to eliminate the effects of state capture and corruption in all departments and entities,” she said.