R500m wasted where it is most needed

2018-05-06 06:00
Zweli Mkhize

Zweli Mkhize

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They allegedly awarded tenders to close relatives, municipal employees and state officials, and broke rules designed to make tender processes fair and competitive.

King Sabatha Dalindyebo (KSD) Municipality officials squandered R500.6m in fruitless, wasteful, irregular and unauthorised expenditure in the 2016/17 financial year alone.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize (pictured) is now on an ambitious mission to clean up beleaguered Eastern Cape municipalities marred by inadequate service delivery and rampant corruption.

On the sidelines of a visit to some of the province’s “dysfunctional municipalities”, Mkhize told City Press action needed to be taken against those who flout supply chain rules that result in councils losing millions intended for service delivery.

The KSD Municipality, made up of Mthatha and Mqanduli, is known for its poor roads and inadequate water and electricity supply.

“We have discussed [wasteful expenditure] and have indicated there is a need for action to be taken by the municipality against those officials who are involved, and for the municipality to keep us informed about how they are dealing with the matter,” Mkhize said outside council chambers.

“This is a blight we must remove from every municipality.”

Mkhize has, however, ruled out placing the city under administration, saying his department only intervened when there was outright failure to perform.

Instead, Mkhize’s department will link KSD’s supply chain management system with those of the SA Revenue Service, and the central supplier database at National Treasury, to improve the verification process of suppliers.

Among Mkhize’s other findings was that KSD had a backlog of 20 800 households without electricity. Some areas, especially in Mqanduli, have partial coverage with some households not connected to the main grid, while others suffer regular power outages. In addition, 54 200 households have no formal piped water supply, at least within 200m from their home. Mthatha’s waterborne sewage system is not fully functional, with repairs required for the pump station. Mqanduli does not even have a waterborne sewage system.

Mkhize said the OR Tambo District Municipality was currently extending the Mthatha Regional Water Supply Scheme and the Coffee Bay Regional Water Scheme to include all of Mqanduli and newly developed settlements to deal with KSD’s water supply problems.

Mkhize also announced a cash injection of R44.5m into KSD, Mhlontlo and Nyandeni municipalities to coincide with the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations. Mandela was born and buried within KSD, named after his cousin, AbaThembu king Sabata Dalindyebo, who died in exile in Zambia.

Mkhize said they discussed problems and interventions in other priority municipalities in the province, including Walter Sisulu, Mnquma, Enoch Mgijima, Port St John’s, Amahlathi, Joe Gqabi, Mbizana, Alfred Nzo, Matatiele, Mhlontlo and Makana.

Most, he said, were plagued by poor governance, lack of institutional capacity, poor financial management, poor long-term infrastructure planning and lack of infrastructure maintenance.

“Our major concern is the level of distress, that some of them have difficulties spending allocated budget from the infrastructure grant, and others have challenges with the huge projects that are necessary to unlock service delivery, such as the bulk water supply and electricity,” Mkhize said.

“These are issues that will require us to hold discussions with various government departments and parastatals to look at what can be done to improve the supply of services.”

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Read more on:    zweli mkhize  |  service delivery

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