Infrastructure investment project labelled a “get-out-of-jail-free card” and set to be “yet another irregular and unauthorised expenditure scandal”
FOLLOWING the Northern Cape provincial government’s announcement of a R500 million project to revamp Kimberley, opposition parties have accused the local government of trying to loot the Province’s coffers and of pulling the wool over residents’ eyes.
This after Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul announced on Thursday that the local government will spend half a billion rand to assist Sol Plaatje Municipality to tackle basic services such as sanitation, water and road maintenance.
Cope in the Northern Cape said that the local government’s decision to intervene and assist Sol Plaatje Municipality with issues of service delivery is “deceitful”.
Cope provincial leader Pakes Dikgetsi said there are many unanswered questions relating to the “sudden assistance”.
“There are highly questionable items, the most spurious one being the purchase agreement that has been signed for the Eskom building to the tune of R16 million. This same building was condemned by the Department of Labour years ago as being uninhabitable due to serious structural defects. It is for this reason that Eskom moved to new premises. Who are the parties to this agreement? Why is the safety of people going to be put at risk?” asked Dikgetsi.
“The premier also needs to explain why they (local government) have been sitting around and have allowed the municipality to collapse on their watch.
“This so-called intervention is one among many that have created more problems than providing solutions. Where is the section 106 investigation report of 2018/19? The premier also needs to clarify why the municipal manager and chief financial officer are still getting paid millions while sitting at home for three years. Why does he condone this blatantly illegal conduct and violating the labour rights of these two good, professional and competent officials?”
Dikgetsi said that although Saul had appointed an Implementation Task Team, which he vowed he would monitor closely, there is still room for corruption.
“The claim that the investment will be immediately implemented, and the city will be turned into a construction site, is opening the back door for yet another irregular and unauthorised expenditure scandal. Given the plethora of still unanswered previous projects like the ‘Mandela Statue’ and the personal protective equipment (PPE) scandals, a conclusion can be drawn that here comes another scandal.
“The provincial government has put in place an Implementation Task Team (ITT) who will purportedly be the implementers, but there are highly-paid officials in the municipality who are not performing and are not held accountable for non-performance? The auditor-general reports are replete with political and management failures for many years. The silence of the premier and the MEC for local government is deafening. They are failing to execute their constitutional obligations of oversight and accountability of the municipality,” Dikgetsi said.
The DA provincial spokesperson on Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Graham Steenkamp, labelled the investment as a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.
“It is ironic that shortly after I opened a criminal case of dereliction of duty against the premier, Dr Zamani Saul, and the MEC for Goghsta, Bentley Vass, they have announced their intention to spend half a billion rand on fixing the broken city of Kimberley. The premier has the audacity to call the R500 million an investment. This is not an investment, it’s a bailout. It is an attempt by the premier and the MEC to stay out of jail for dereliction of duty and failing to provide oversight of municipalities, in response to the Hawks case (NC DPCI Enquiry 10/03/2021) that I opened against them.
“It is also a last-ditch effort ahead of the local government elections to try and regain support from fuming Sol Plaatje residents who, after years of neglect, have had enough of the water cuts, the sewage spills and the potholes that have overrun this city,” said Steenkamp.
Saul, during the announcement earlier this week, indicated that the city will from Monday, April 12 be turned into a construction site when the work starts on infrastructure projects.