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.