DA question KZN MEC’s decision to spend millions beautifying CBD

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on COGTA

The Democratic Alliance has called for answers from KwaZulu-Natal MEC, Nomusa Dube, after it was revealed that the province’s COGTA department is footing the bill for a R23 million upgrade to the Pietermaritzburg CBD.

According to a media report, the project, currently underway, is being financed with COGTA grant funding.  The money is to be spent on the reconstruction of the road pavement layers, upgrading of sidewalks, new kerbs, landscaping and street furniture.  Delays on site have also led to a budget deficit of some R2.6?million.

Essentially, what the COGTA department has done is spend in excess of R20 million beautifying a 200 metre stretch of road near the city hall.  This raises serious questions about the development criteria of the department and its priorities.  It also raises the question of why a COGTA grant is being used rather than municipal funding.

Local government in KwaZulu-Natal continues to lurch from one crisis to the next, while a visit to some of the province’s smaller towns is evidence of urban decay at its very worst.  There can be no doubt that the grant money being spent on brick paving and other nice-to-haves outside the City Hall should have been spent elsewhere.

The DA will be asking the MEC on what basis this project, which is purely cosmetic, was taken on by the department when there are far more urgent issues of urban renewal in the province.