Covid-19 food parcels: City of Tshwane asks for more funding to cope with need

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Food parcels donated by aid organisation Gift of Givers hands in Paarl.
Food parcels donated by aid organisation Gift of Givers hands in Paarl.
Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • The City of Tshwane needs R290 million per month to feed 500 000 households.
  • Parliament has heard that Covid-19 has brought about massive losses.
  • City administrator Mpho Nawa has since pleaded for government help.

In just one month, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a R900-million dent in the revenue of the nation’s capital city - and more losses are projected.

The City of Tshwane has requested assistance from the national and Gauteng governments, as additional costs relating to food parcels and plans for the homeless were expected to amount to at least R850 million.

The City projects that it will need R290 million per month to provide food parcels for an estimated 500 000 households in need.

READ | Operations stalled at Cape Town harbour due to Covid-19

City administrator Mpho Nawa presented the City's Covid-19 response and challenges during a virtual sitting of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on Thursday.

"The additional Covid-19 expenditure for 2019/2020, as well as 2020/2021, has a significant impact on the ability of the City to deliver its mandate. Collection per service type is significantly lower in April 2020 versus March 2020 - R908 million lower. Projections are that collections will be even lower in May and June," Nawa told MPs.

He said, in order to accommodate the lower collection levels, the 2020/2021 expenditure budget would have to be adjusted downwards.

"With the additional Covid-19 costs, it would be extremely challenging, bearing in mind that the normal service delivery levels in all areas will have to be maintained. Cost containment measures will be implemented, but these shouldn’t result in significant savings as they were already implemented in 2019/2020. Should grants be appropriated for the revenue projects focus on the collection of revenue, as well as the improvement of lost billing could be addressed," he said.

Nawa said the City needed funding to deal with the current year-end deficit. It also needed to deal with the 2020/2021 budget.

READ | Tshwane administrator's plea to commuters: Heed the regulations, stop forcing your way onto buses

"The City cannot submit an unfunded budget, and currently due to additional Covid-19 costs and further loss of revenue, this will be the case," he said.

Cash-strapped

But Nawa said they were also providing relief to cash-strapped consumers.

“The City has put together an incentive programme which is aimed at assisting residents and businesses during these hard times of Covid-19 pandemic, by implementing optional payment holidays. It further assists in bringing their municipal consumer accounts up to date and incentivise star payers to continue to keep their accounts up to date throughout," he said.

Municipal officials also gave the committee an update on the Temba Water purification plant upgrade project.

"Construction of the plant upgrade is complete and the plant has been commissioned. The plant still struggles with water quality issues due to high concentrations of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite discharged at the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant," Nawa told the committee.

On the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant, Nawa said the City had decided to put out a request for proposal (RFP) for alternative technological solutions to improve the final effluent quality at the plant.

The proposal to go the RFP route was approved by the Administrators in May.

The appointment of administrators is currently the subject of a court challenge at the Constitutional Court. 

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