Budget vote speech: COGHSTA

By Jacques Smalle DA MPL:


The following speech was delivered by Jacques Smalle DA MPL, to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature on 28 May 2015 during the Debate on the 2015 Budget of the Department of Cooperative Governance Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs.

Recycled promises won’t hide mediocrity

The DA believes in a society that is characterised by FREEDOM, FAIRNESS AND OPPORTUNITY.

It is in this spirit of fairness that the DA recognises COGHSTA’s achievement of a ‘Clean Audit’.

The Development of human settlements is at the core of your department’s mandate, yet about R644 million was returned back to National Treasury in 2012/13.

In the 2013/14 financial year, the programme under spent the total allocated budget by R449,4 million.

At the end of 2014/15 financial year, COGHSTA  was most guilty of ‘underspending’ of all departments and recorded a failure to spend a staggering R562 397 million, at least according to the

Limpopo Adjustment Appropriation Amendment Bill of 2015.

Hon.MEC

No amount of promises can hide the mediocrity that has cost this province at least 9, 259 basic RDP houses that would have been built had you not lost this amount.

The DA believes that houses are an asset which for the poorest in our communities are leverage and empower many out of trappings of poverty and debt.

Yet, this dept. promised and failed to provide the people of Mutale in Vhembe their dignified right to shelter.

Where the DA governs high quality services are delivered consistently and sustainably, unlike this dept. which is willing to now spend R1.5 million on assessing substandard housing which was supposed to be built properly in the first place.

The mediocrity of your promises in your budget vote leaves us with more questions than answers.

At the heart of Cooperative governance is providing technical and oversight support to municipalities for them to complete their mandate.

There are Municipal Public Accounts Committee’s in our municipalities yet, they are on the verge of collapse.

It befits mediocrity Hon.MEC to celebrate and solely focus on ‘good’ municipalities such as Waterberg, Blouberg etc and conveniently leave out the ‘messy’ ones.

You forget that a dept. is only as strong as its weakest link.

In April, five municipalities owed Eskom more than R 221 million.

Hon. Speaker the MEC mentioned that Capricorn DM has raised the bar i.t.o audit opinion , yet  a January 2015 report of the Auditor General reveals that the Capricorn District Municipality failed to spend R276 million in the 2014/2015 financial year.

Essentially, R130 million was underspent from conditional grants for infrastructure and a further R146 million was underspent from the capital budget.

The rate at which this dept. delivers essential services is appalling. In the 3rd quarter of the previous financial year no new sites were connected to basic water and electricity, yet 500 sites were identified and targeted.

Hon.MEC, explain to our communities why your indecisive political  will and  a lack of leadership led to Limpopo municipalities only spending  a mere 34.9% of their Municipal Infrastructure Grants?

For far too long our people have been waiting for homes and services while the ruling party delivers sanitized sales pitches in the form of Batho pele principles, Operation clean audit 2014 and Back-to-basics and now the Limpopo Development Plan.

Till today, we have no comprehensive feedback report by your department and other ones, on the performance of each of these promises so how can we measure the success of each programme let alone keep you accountable?

Unlike many opposition parties the DA is not opposing for the sake of it. We have an alternative plan that actually works and it goes as follows:

  1. Nationally, the DA has called for the Finance Minister to effect regulation which will ensure that at least 7% of the minimum annual expenditure of municipal and provincial budgets is secured for infrastructure maintenance.
  1. Provincially, we urge you as the MEC to secure at least 7% of your annual municipal budget to strictly servicing the massive infrastructure backlog in your municipalities.
  1. Fast track housing backlog :

allow the private sector greater scope to become involved and to develop innovative models for housing delivery and affordable integrated housing developments.

  1. Restore human dignity

make greater use of the energies and commitment of the poor, rather than seeing them as passive recipients. Give them skills and involve them in the building process of their own homes.

Prioritise spatial redress:

Human settlements policy cannot be separated from its immediate and related context- place people where they’re close to work opportunities, where they regard their properties as the fruits of their own labour rather than gifts from the state.