KZN dept to forfeit millions

2011-01-12 00:00

THE embattled Department of Human Settlements in KwaZulu-Natal is set to forfeit millions of rands in housing grants because of under-spending and its failure to meet monthly delivery targets for low-cost housing.

The National Department of Housing said yesterday that the provincial department, under Human Settlements and Public Works MEC Maggie Govender, is one of four provinces facing the prospect of losing part of their annual human settlements grant because of their failure to meet monthly delivery targets.

The national department currently distributes approximately R14 billion a year to provinces for low-cost housing and related projects.

Director-general of the department, Thabane Zulu, said under-performing provinces might forfeit their grants which are likely to be redirected to provinces where there is better performance.

“Four provinces — Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Free State — are lagging behind with delivery or are under-spending and may have to forfeit a portion of their grant,” Zulu said in a statement issued yesterday.

Last year, the ANC Youth League called on KZN premier Zweli Mkhize to axe Govender and two other MECs in the province for their lacklustre perfor­mance in their portfolios.

The others were Rural Development and Agriculture MEC Lydia Johnson and Population Development MEC Meshack Radebe.

In November last year, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale warned the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements that a number of provinces were under-performing when it came to low-cost housing deliver.

At the time, he said the main reasons for this included a lack of capacity in provinces — in particular project management experience — and a lack of bulk infrastructure such as large-scale electricity and water supply projects.

“All nine provinces were asked to provide the national department with recovery plans to demonstrate how they were going to meet their monthly and annual delivery targets,” said Zulu.

“In line with good governance and legislation, after having studied the delivery plans and consulted with the provinces, the minister is considering the practicality of transferring funds from provinces which are lagging behind, to provinces where there are approved business plans in place.

“There have been detailed discussions with all the provinces and it is clear that serious challenges remain in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State. As a result, they may have to forfeit a portion of their annual human settlements grant,” he said.

A final decision on which pro­vinces will forfeit funds, and how much will be transferred to other provinces, will be made soon.

Zulu said the four provinces were identified after a technical assessment.

A detailed report of how much provincial departments under-spent and how far they have progressed with their monthly targets for low-cost housing will be released tomorrow.

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