City to divert R14m from projects to erect Mandela, Tambo statues
THE eThekwini council has approved an adjustment budget which, among other things, will see funds being diverted from some projects towards the R21 million bill for the erection of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo statues in the city.
Funds will now be relocated from programmes which include the one meant for the replacement of the old furnace at Mobeni Heights crematorium, the upgrade of the uMhlanga lifesaving building and the installation of air conditioning at a library in Inanda.
A total of R2.3m will be diverted from the Mobeni Heights furnace replacement project while R9.7m will be diverted from the upgrade of the uMhlanga lifesaving building and R2.5m from the air conditioning of Inanda library.
However, the city gave assurances that the adjustments budget will not in any way affect service delivery as the funds were being relocated from those projects that had stalled owing to a number of reasons.
EThekwini spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said: “It is important to note that some capital projects are delayed due to a shift in community interests, contractual challenges due to protests which delays the implementation of certain projects etc.”
Mthethwa stressed the importance of statues, saying arts and culture contributes to social cohesion and plays a vital role in the economy and contributes to service delivery.
“For example the statues of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo will ensure that the memory of these stalwarts lives on, as there will be dissemination of information around these statues and this creates dialogue around community and nation building.”
City manager Sipho Nzuza echoed similar sentiments, saying “projects are delayed because of a number of reasons including operational or contractual challenges that have to be addressed before the project can move ahead, and in the interim those funds can be utilised elsewhere”.
He said the projects that have been mentioned will start as soon as compliance and relevant capacity issues have been addressed.
“With regards to the Inanda Library air conditioner, there were unforeseen delays as a result of new architectural requisition and procurement processes. The Mobeni Heights replacement of old furnace was delayed due to the Bid Adjudication Committee’s recommendations that it be re-advertised so that it complies with the relevant Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading,” he said.
The DA opposed the adjustments, saying there was no justification for funds being moved from crucial projects to fund statues.
“We respect the political history of the country and that we need to honour the political leaders and heroes of the past but at the same time tangible freedom cannot be looking at statues of people when you don’t have basic services delivered by a municipality that is failing,” DA councillor Nicole Graham said.
She added: “When the issue of statues first came to council, the amount requested was in the vicinity of R13m and the municipality claimed that was a ballpark figure and they would look for sponsorships and corporate partnerships to fund it.
“Now they are taking money from day-to-day service delivery to things that are vitally important like the Mobeni Heights crematorium that has been giving problems for years to fund statues for over R20m.
“I don’t see how any right thinking person can support this in our economic climate when we have crises with service delivery.”