Cover up feared in housing scandal
Cape Town - Irregularities concerning a Cape Town housing project are on the verge of being indefinitely covered up, the DA said on Friday.
MP Mark Steele said the Standing Committee on Public Accounts had adopted the report on the Auditor-General's special audit of the N2 Gateway housing project in February 2010, but ever since then since then the report "has sat on the National Assembly order paper".
"New and apparently more important reports kept filling up the parliamentary order paper and Scopa N2 Gateway report fell further and further down the list," Steele said.
"The National Assembly has now concluded its agenda for the year and the report will in all probability fall permanently off the order paper.
"The failure to debate and adopt the AG's resolutions means that the scandal surrounding the initial planning, tender award, construction and management of the project will be covered up in much the same way that the arms deal has been covered up by powerful political forces within the ANC."
Steele said the origins of the N2 project lay in the Presidential State of the Nation address of May 2004 and the ANC's determination to use its control of all three spheres of government in Cape Town and the Western Cape "to implement a dramatically different style of housing delivery project which could be used as an election showpiece".
Business plan incomplete
The problem was that key legislation was not in place at the time and the project commenced without proper timeframes for planning and implementation.
In his report, the Auditor-General found that the business plan for the construction of the N2 Gateway project had not been finalised and approved before the actual construction commenced.
The City Manager of the City of Cape Town confirmed that officials of the city advised the M3 - then Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu, MEC for Housing Marius Fransman and City Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo - that the deadline of six months to construct 22 000 units could not be met.
"In his words, 'The M3's view was that as the money was available, the six months deadline was not negotiable."
The tender process for the award of the project managers contained numerous irregularities, including the selection of the company originally ranked as 6th by the evaluation committee and which lacked the necessary specialist expertise to perform the various project management functions.
"The physical defects during the early construction phase, in particular at Joe Slovo Park, were clearly visible when Scopa went on a site inspection visit.
"These included cracks in walls and floors, loose or non-existent fittings, uncovered drain pipes and blocked drains. It was clear that compliance certificates and building inspection procedures had been rushed through as even the certificate for completion of the contract was 'erroneously issued', according to the Auditor-General.
"At the end of the day the people living in informal settlements for whom the project was intended have never been able to occupy the units, which they simply can't afford.
"Only 871 units of the revised number of 16 735 were completed by May 2007, two years after the project commenced.
"Millions have been wasted in a project which was mainly about political window dressing by the ANC and little about actual delivery to those desperate for affordable housing in Cape Town."