Fail­ure to spend loses R300m for depart­ment

The New Age (Free State) - - NORTH WEST NEWS - ELFAS TORERAI elfast@the­

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.

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