Home News UPDATE: Premier’s Office denies diversion of Covid-19 funds to fix the city

UPDATE: Premier’s Office denies diversion of Covid-19 funds to fix the city

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No funds that were allocated to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the Northern Cape were diverted to the R500 million project to fix the city, according to the Premier’s Office.

Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul. Picture: Danie van der Lith

NO FUNDS that were allocated to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the Northern Cape were diverted to the R500 million project to fix the city, according to the Premier’s Office.

The DA questioned where the funds that the Premier had promised to utilise from the Covid-19 budget in order to address service delivery issues in the Sol Plaatje municipal district had been spent, as they were not reflected in the breakdown that was provided to them through a Public Access to Information Act (Paia) application.

It was indicated that funds that exceed R500 million, were contributed by the Department of Roads and Public Works, the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and Sol Plaatje Municipality.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams said that it was “unequivocally” stipulated in the report that was received by the DA through the Public Access to Information (PAIA) application, that “no monies were taken from the Covid-19 fund”.

“A breakdown is given of where the monies have been sourced.”

She stated that the response of the premier was “misconstrued”

“There is a disconnect between the premier’s verbal response to the media and the department’s written response provided to the DA on the basis of his request for access to the information.”

She explained that during the press briefing that took place on April 8, the Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, gave a detailed account of where the money originated from.

“The Premier indicated that with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a need to reprioritise funding of departments to provide added support to the Department of Health in the fight against the pandemic. The Premier then went further to state that we are relatively in control of the virus and are therefore in a position financially to direct money towards this intervention. This is in light of the fact that the previous financial year, monies were redirected from certain programmes in departments to contribute towards the Covid-19 budget.”

Thomas-Abrahams added that the intervention project at Sol Plaatje Municipality was implemented by provincial government as well as teams from the municipality and the Department of Roads and Public Works.

“The technical teams of the departments and the municipality are constantly engaging to ensure effective and efficient use of resources and timeous implementation of the projects.”

In response from action groups calling for Sol Plaatje Municipality to be placed under administration due to non-performance and a lack of service delivery,, she encouraged communities to instead work together with the municipality to fulfil its duties.

The Kimberley Action Group wants all the functions of the municipality to be handed over to civil society and businesses for the next six months.

Thomas-Abrahams pointed out that a municipality was only placed under administration if it was ascertained that it was not fulfilling its obligations.

“Placing a municipality under administration is preceded by an administrative process of which the mandate is entrusted with the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs. This is only done when it has been established that the municipality cannot fulfil its obligations as per the acts and prescripts that govern municipalities.”

She indicated that provincial government did not condone the taking over of municipal services by any community groupings

“Community members are encouraged to exercise their responsibility towards the municipality as well as work with the municipality to fulfil its duties.”