Vulindlela double-speak

2011-08-01 00:00

THERE has been considerable adverse publicity against the awarding of the R2,1-billion Vulindlela housing project by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements after it abandoned a mandatory tender process. Questions have been asked about who is really driving the project. The more that is said in the public domain, thanks to the media, the more the stories fail to tie up.

Regarding the money, I attended a meeting of the National Reference Group in Pretoria on June 14 where a provincial official stated that R9,2 million had been paid to “the developer” (the amakhosi company Vulindlela Development Association or VDA) for work done to date. The province only signed off on the project on March 12. My conclusion, confirmed by the official, was that it was largely for feasibility work done, at risk, not by VDA but by its “appointed technical assistants”, Dezzo Holdings, prior to the project being approved.

At a press conference held on July 13, the head of Dezzo Housing, Anton Vorster, was quoted responding to a journalist that “R99 million has been paid to Nurcha so far and R75 million has been paid to the VDA. So far this money had been used to buy vehicles, machinery and tools”.

On July 27, the MEC’s spokesperson is quoted as saying: “To date, no money has been paid to the service providers and the full amount of R99 821 036 that was paid to Nurcha is still with Nurcha.”

This contrasts starkly with the MEC’s statement, when the Daily News first covered the story in April, that the department is not at risk because Nurcha is the funder of the project. It is, in fact, a bridge financer in the subsidised housing industry, in which the Department of Human Settlements is a 50% stakeholder. Has Nurcha also thrown caution to the wind, because it has been put in funds by provincial government?

There are very clear signs on the ground that substantial funds have been disbursed from the project. While our staff were running a housing consumer education programme with members of the Vulindlela community in the CBD, other members of the community, who were marching to stop the project, phoned to say that their induna had been spotted driving a brand new 4x4 bakkie.

This is claimed to be a community-driven housing project. It has to go back to the drawing board.

 

• Cameron Brisbane is executive director of the Built Environment Support Group.

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