GROBLERSDAL – The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Sekhukhune has expressed concerns that Sekhukhune District Municipality (SDM) has failed to spend the R29 million reprioritsed from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) for the 2020/21 financial year to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
The DA said the amount was meant to be used for infrastructure and water projects in the water scarce district and was supposed to have been spent before the end of June this year but remained virtually untouched due to sheer administrative and political leadership incompetence.
According to the party a business plan or technical report, indicating the basis on which the allocated amount was to be spent, was submitted for consideration and approval to the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in May last year.
It said that the business plan, which gave an outline of specific infrastructure and water projects, was then approved by the DWS and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (GOGTA).
The party further said that the district municipality then irregularly appointed eight contractors around June and July months in 2020.
Solomon Maila, DA Sekhukhune Caucus leader, said the party brought huge pressure to bear on the municipality to stop the irregular appointments of the contractors and that resulted in the suspension of three senior officials on 15 September that year.
Maila informed that no further disciplinary action was taken against the three officials who included the Manager in Project Management Unit responsible for MIG projects.
He added that subsequently, the suspensions were lifted and the officials returned to the municipality but not allowed to return to the responsibilities for which they were employed.
“The municipality’s failure have resulted in the R29 million not being spent and it is now trying to apply for this money to be rolled over into the 2021/22 financial year. This is contrary to the provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) circular.
The criteria for the rollover of conditional grant funds require that the unspent funds must be allocated to identifiable projects and that there must be proof that contractors or service providers were appointed for the delivery of the projects before 31 March this year,” explained Maila.
Maila continued that the municipality has failed to appoint contractors utilizing those reprioritized MIG funds and that it was highly likely that the R29 million would not be rolled over to the 2021/22 financial year. It would have to be surrendered to the National Treasure.
“The DA believes that the inability of the municipality to spend the R29 million, allocated to help the people of Sekhukhune in their battle against the COVID-19 pandemic which has already claimed so many lives, is simply unforgivable,” concluded Maila.