KZN Transport budgets R12 million for celebrations

Tom Stokes, MPP

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Finance

A written response by KwaZulu-Natal’s Transport department to the province’s Finance portfolio committee has revealed that the department has budgeted R12 million on functions to celebrate bridge openings, sod turnings and wellness days in the run up to the 2014 elections.

The information forms the basis of a request by the finance committee to the department to provide details of cost-cutting measures to be implemented, particularly with regard to “catering for external meetings, workshops and events”.

The department returned the following abridged list of planned events and their budgets;

  • Sisonke P602 Opening                                                  R1 000 000
  • Ulundi Wela Weigh Bridge opening                         R1 000 000
  • DOT Employee Sports @ Wellness Day                  R1 000 000
  • Amajuba D 96 opening                                                  R1 000 000
  • Sisonke Umzimkulu Bridges opening                      R1 000 000
  • Msinga  River bridge opening                                     R1 000 000
  • Umlalazi D883 sod-turning                                           R1 000 000
  • Mtubatuba River bridge opening                             R1 000 000
  • Ugu P69 opening                                                             R 1 000 000
  • Msinga pedestrian bridge opening                          R1 000 000
  • Amajuba D1264 opening                                              R1 000 000
  • Indaka Sod turning                                                         R1 000 000

TOTAL   R12 000 000

The DA regards the provision of roads and bridges, particularly to isolated communities within rural areas, as a necessary and most welcome infrastructure spend.  But we have a major problem with the excessive spending on celebrating these projects.  This expenditure merely adds an unnecessary cost to the project – money that could be spent on other much-needed resources.

The targeted sites for these junkets are also within IFP territories which raises serious questions around whether public funds are to be used to fund ANC political jamborees.

Unfortunately this uncontested conflation of state and political party interests has a fairly long history. It forms part of the huge wastage of state funds nationally as hidden add-on costs to projects which soak up hard-earned tax payers’ funds rather than addressing citizens’ real needs.

The DA will be demanding a detailed breakdown of the budget for each of these events from KZN Transport MEC, Willies Mchunu.  We will also request that the MEC clarify to what extent his department has responded to Treasury’s edict to curb wasteful expenditure.