Just 24 hours after the Democratic Alliance (DA) uncovered the non-existence of the R95 million Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) began a furious attempt to cover its tracks by disabling and removing the CAV’s website from operation.
The website, which lauds the CAV as “an initiative of the DTI”, contains an article fully documenting the opening ceremony of the CAV back in 2011, as well as several 3D architectural models of the still to be constructed buildings. (Screenshots of the website can still be accessed here via webarchive).
Last week the DA held a press conference outside the site of the CAV, revealing a forensic report which shows that almost R100 million of public funds was squandered on developing this non-existent aerospace village. All that exists is a vacant plot of barren land and a few piles of sand.
The DTI responded via a media statement stating that these claims were “baseless” and that the CAV is “fully operational”. The dubious timing of the removal of the website only proves that the DA’s claims were not baseless as the DTI have claimed. Rather it shows that the DTI have something to hide and are quickly covering every track.
The DTI has also claimed that private company, Aerosud, is a tenant of the CAV, this despite the Aerosud chairperson denying such claims. If Aerosud truly is a tenant of the CAV, then Minister Davies must at once make available the lease which governs and formalises such an agreement.
In addition to this, in this week’s Sunday Times the CAV advertised the position of a “Business Development Manager” – a vacancy that will earn R820 000 per year. A frantic search for someone to quite literally “develop the business” of the CAV is yet another clear admission of guilt by the DTI. It only serves to illustrate how far from reality the CAV really is, despite spending close to R100 million of taxpayers’ money. Apparently the DTI feels that if they employ a Business Manager, their woes will dissipate.
In light of this my colleague, DA MP Dean Macpherson, has today written to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Joan Fubbs, indicating that he will table the redacted forensic report at its next sitting, and has requested that Minister Davies appears before the Committee to discuss this matter and table the full and uncensored version of the report. Minister Davies must also furnish the Committee with the so-called lease agreement between the CAV and private company Aerosud, which allegedly renders Aerosud a tenant of the CAV.
The DA will continue to ensure that every cent of public money is spent on improving the lives and creating opportunities for all South Africans, and that job-killing corruption is eradicated, once and for all. The Centurion Aerospace Village is no exception.
Patrick Atkinson MP
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Economic Development
083 445 2059