Underspent R30 million could have built 350 houses for the poor

Bosman Grobler, MPL

DA Spokesperson on Human Settlements

At-least 350 families in Mpumalanga do not have a roof over their heads and a place to call home, due to the provincial department of Human Settlements underspending their budget by over R30 million.

According to the second quarterly report presented to the Human Settlement Portfolio committee, the department has failed to spend its allocated appropriation budget for the 2014/15 financial year. The report states that the department had failed to spend R30 325 000 million of its R1 380 507 000 billion budget allocation. This meant that the department had merely spent 31% of its total budget thus far, 19% below the targeted budget expenditure for the midterm.

According to the National Department of Human Settlements, in 2003 it cost just over R20 000 to build an RDP house – and R90 000 in 2014. Thus the R30 325 000 million which was underspent by the Mpumalanga department of Human Settlements, could have built more than 350 homes for people, at the R90 000 per house.

The second quarterly report also states that the department (Human Settlements) returned R123 699 000 million to the National Treasury in the 2013/14 financial year and R32 924 000 million in the previous financial year of 2012/13. This means that R156 623 000 million was returned to the Treasury over the past two years. This could have been used to build more than 2000 houses for Mpumalanga citizens.

There continues to be massive underspending in this department which has hindered housing to many people in Mpumalanga. According to the Appropriation bill the department’s budget is expected to increase from R1.380 billion to R1.766 billion in the next financial year.

It is extremely concerning that the department is currently failing to spend the budget it has been allocated.  In a portfolio committee meeting on the 4th of November, the DA expressed its concern that the housing backlog of the department in the province is almost 200 000 houses. On whether the department considered any alternative methods of building or renovating current buildings into residential facilities to reduce this backlog, the HOD, Mr S.M Mtsweni, answered that the department will currently take 20 years to clear the backlog.

It is quite clear that only the strongest political leadership will guide the department to provide for the current needs of the residence of Mpumalanga. The DA will keep the pressure on MEC Violet Siwela to ensure that the department is spending all the funds allocated to them. The residents of Mpumalanga need this department to succeed.