George Mari, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements
AN URGENT call by KZN’s Human Settlements MEC, to municipalities within the province, to return unused housing funds sitting in municipal housing operating accounts (MHOA), has yielded little with only R793 000 of the original R148 million allocated being returned.
The shocking figures form part of a report tabled at a meeting of the KZN Human Settlement portfolio committee last week. The recall was made earlier this year, with letters sent to municipalities across the province. To date, Abaqulusi is the only municipality to comply with the directive, returning R793 000.
Some of the KZN municipalities that have failed to comply with the order and their excuses for not doing so are as follows;
– Ethekwini municipality which has indicated that the funds are already earmarked for certain projects but has yet to furnish details on this.
– Umgeni municipality, which claims it does not have any monies available and is currently in overdraft. The municipality has already spent R25 million allocated to housing on operational expenses. It is therefore unable to proceed with the original housing project for which these funds are earmarked.
– Kwadukuza municipality has indicated that it will not return any funds to the province and is challenging the MEC’s authority to recall funds.
– Endumeni, where an independent auditor has had to be appointed to verify the MHOA balances in a bid to determine the amount to be refunded to the department.
– The municipalities of Kwasani and Umziwabantu, which are yet to respond to the directive despite numerous follow-ups and reminders being sent to them.
This is inexcusable.
Housing delivery remains one of the province’s biggest challenges. Yet R148 million is sitting unused in municipal housing accounts while municipalities drag their heels and evade returning these funds to the province. The DA will submit follow up parliamentary questions on the matter in a bid to ensure that the funds are either spent during the course of the current financial year, failing which they must be returned to province.
It is essential that the MEC establish exactly how many millions of rands intended for housing have been spent on other priorities. Municipalities that have redirected this much needed funding must be named and shamed.