Failure to spend loses R300m for department
THE local government and human settlements department has come under fire for losing R300m that was rolled back to the national Treasury after it failed to spend its housing budget.
The money could not be spent in the 2017-18 financial year and has since been disbursed to other provinces. News of the failure to spend surfaced when the provincial budget was presented. The provincial legislature portfolio committee on local government bemoaned the department’s failure to utilise money at a time a project on military veterans’ houses is on hold.
The portfolio committee chairperson, Motlalepula Rosho, said it was the second consecutive year the department failed to perform, depriving residents of much-needed houses. The committee also tonguelashed the department for its failure to adequately capacitate and play an oversight role on municipalities.
Rosho said the department allows municipalities to do as they please.
“You aren’t adhering to the back to basics’ principles in terms of assessing impact. Instead, you are doing malicious compliance to tick the box of submitting reports. Municipalities like Lekwa-Teemane and Ditsobotla are in a state of collapse. The reality is that the auditor-general’s briefing on the Municipal Finance Management Act audit outcomes once more confirmed our assertion as the portfolio committee that the provincial municipalities’ performance has regressed,” she said.
The portfolio chairperson also cited instances where the Kagisano Molopo municipality allegedly held council meetings at the Protea Hotel in Mahikeng and other areas outside the municipality’s boundaries. “The mayor there is a law unto herself – she even attacked a councillor physically. How can a council meeting be moved from its own constituency?” she asked.In his response to questions raised, the head of department, Ephraim Motoko, said they take the stick for underperforming, leading to the rolling over of the R300m. “We started the process of procuring late in the year and most contractors were poorly performing. On some projects, the planning phase was not complete.
“In areas like Marikana and Bokamoso, contractors could not continue because of community protests,” he said. MEC Fenny Gaolaolwe said the other problem that delayed service delivery in housing is that most people have already received houses.
On the issues of the beneficiary list, the MEC said the department was experiencing challenges and is working hard to resolve them.
The department was ordered to submit a turnaround plan that will ensure they deliver houses for military veterans, submit a report to translate the R300m budget lost to other provinces and how many beneficiaries had been disadvantaged. It also has to report on why the Kagisano-Molopo local municipality held meetings at the Protea.