Zululand responds

2014-02-20 00:00

YOUR article dated February 12, 2014, “Zululand mayor in hot water for missing meeting on spending” refers.

The letter dated January 22, 2014 from the KZN Provincial Legislature (public accounts standing committee — Scopa) inviting Zululand District Municipality (ZDM) to the meeting, did not specify who should attend the meeting on behalf of the ZDM leadership, hence the delegation sent was deemed fit to respond to that which was highlighted in the invitation.

This was in no way intended to be disrespectful or taking the committee lightly. On February 4, 2014 a letter was sent to the secretary of the committee with the names and portfolios of the ZDM delegates to attend the meeting. No objection was received with regards to the unsuitability of our delegation. However, during the meeting the mayor was informed that the committee was unhappy with the delegation and that the municipal manager and the chief financial officer were not part of the delegation. The mayor of the ZDM immediately wrote a letter to the chairperson of the Scopa, apologising for the miscommunication and requested a new date.

The issue of water shortages is a nationwide problem and is not limited to Zululand. We acknowledge what the chairperson said regarding water shortages in Zululand and this has been reported at different structures in various departments by ZDM. In order to meet the RDP level of standards, ZDM requires an amount of more than R3 billion to overcome water backlogs within the district.

During the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 financial years, ZDM spent more than R901 million on water and sanitation projects affecting approximately 38 000 households, and approximately R80 million on emergency water provision (water tankers).

The R64,6 million allocated to Zululand District Municipality in the 2012/2013 financial year was spent fully according to the audited financial statements, and what the article says with regards to this allocation is not correct.

The projects that were budgeted under the R25,3 million were capital in nature but are operating in terms of Grap (generally recognised accounting accounting practice) standards. As a result, it was disclosed under operating expenditure.

The reportedly “missing” R18,6 million also mentioned in the reports is disclosed by ZDM in note 35.7 of the Audited Annual Financial Statements of the Zululand District Municipality (Regulation 36 of SCM-regulations). The said amount was reported to council as deviations of SCM regulations as required by the MFMA and condoned, and to say it is lost is misleading.

Local economic development is one of the district municipality’s functions where our IDP identifies three key developmental priorities, namely tourism, agriculture and commerce/business, hence the purchase of tractors to assist our communities to participate in agricultural activities.

The Honourable Belinda Scott referred to the Indoor Sports Centre, stating that it does not fall under the district’s responsibilities. The Sports Centre is deemed important for the development of sports within the Zululand District Municipality, given the fact that there is no similar facility in the entire district.

Furthermore, the honourable member talks about Zululand under-spending on its adjustment budget. The funds not spent were due to delays in the SCM procedure carried over to the pursuing year’s budget and accordingly spent. It is important to state that the figure indicated as unspent does not tally with our records, and financial statements of ZDM are available on the website.

One of the functions of the district municipality is to maintain rural roads and to fulfil this mandate the ZDM budgeted R1,5 million for the purchase of a grader, R3 million for water tankers and R1,8 million to replace the vehicles that were due to be disposed of, as per council policy.

The Honourable MPL Mtshali in your article says that the district has politicised the provision of water in Zululand by supplying water tanks before the recent by-elections that have never been used. If the honourable member is referring to the water tanks in Ward 5, KwaNongoma, we were informally told that some water tanks were installed by the department of Cogta (Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs) and not by ZDM.

Zululand District Municipality has in the past 14 years received unqualified audit reports and its leadership — both administrative and political — has no reason to avoid appearing before the public accounts standing committee and are well equipped to respond to any issues pertaining to the financial standing of the district.

• JH De Klerk is municipal manager of the Zululand District Municipality.

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