R1 billion outsourced for premier’s bulk water promise

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The DA is concerned that Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza may not deliver on his promise of bulk water provision to the people of the province, as it is clear that the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) lacks the capacity to do so.

In a response to DA parliamentary questions, economic development MEC Yvonne Phosa claims that MEGA’s new leadership brings with it the necessary expertise and capacity to manage these bulk water projects.

However, the MEC further states that these highly skilled and capable individuals put out a tender to appoint a professional consulting engineering entity to oversee the programme management and its implementation.

From the outset, the DA questioned the rationale of MEGA’s appointment as implementing agent, especially when that function is designated to district municipalities and is not part of and economic growth agency’s core mandate. Yet, while MEGA is called the implementing agent, they will not be doing any work, and are simply adding a layer of bureaucracy and additional costs to the process.

Furthermore, the premier has on numerous occasions promised that the entire project would be complete by the end of the 2014 financial year, yet MEC Phosa claims that it would take three years, coupled with a few “quick-win” projects, at a staggering cost of over R984 million to local municipalities.

Click here to view MEC Phosa’s response.

Bulk water supply is a serious concern and the DA believes that premier Mabuza and the ANC are treating the symptom and not the cause, which is the lack of capacity of district municipalities to effectively coordinate and manage bulk infrastructure development.

Local municipalities are now forced to sacrifice close on to R1 billion in funds meant for service delivery to an incapable implementing agent that merely acts as go-between. This plan would have been much more effective had the premier:

  • In the Office of the Premier, appoint a single experienced project manager to manage the tender process for the appointment of the consulting engineering entity;
  • Sign Memoranda of Understanding with district municipalities to manage and coordinate funding and bulk water development projects;
  • Coordinate needs assessments for bulk water projects with local municipalities and manage their implementation.

The people of Mpumalanga have been waiting since February 2012 for premier Mabuza’s plan to see the light, but it will require less bureaucratic bungling and more implementation.