By Alan Fuchs MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Infrastructure Development:
The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID), responsible for the establishment and maintenance of much needed infrastructure, has once again left millions of residents behind by failing to institute astute financial and project management.
During the 2013/14 financial year, the department underspent its budget by R640 million – equating to 28% its annual budget.
Last year, 2014/15, the situation worsened as the budget allocation for infrastructure implementation was underspent by R1, 25 billion. This number is made up of R905 million worth of projects that were removed from its budget, due to its failure to initiate planning and construction, as well as R350 million that simply could not be spent.
During the debates on the budgets for the current financial year, the poor performance of this department was acknowledged by the MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy, who said “Particularly, I am concerned about ongoing project delays, cost overruns, and procurement challenges still being experienced on projects.”
This was echoed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura who in his budget speech indicated that DID was in need of critical care and acknowledged that overinflated projects, poor performance and time wasting have stymied the critical work of government.
However, MEC for DID, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza did not share this sentiment, stating “We have turned around the history of poor performance”. There is clearly a disjuncture between the views of Premier and members of his cabinet.
DID has a critical role to play in kick-starting Premier Makhura’s programme of Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation of Gauteng. This department is the engine that will unlock jobs, boosting economic growth and restoring prosperity to Gauteng.
If Premier Makhura and MEC Creecy can see the potential of this department – and also acknowledge its shortcomings, why can MEC Mayathula-Khoza not?
For the sake of the millions of residents in Gauteng who rely heavily on this department for the construction of schools, hospitals and clinics, Premier Makhura would be better served by a MEC who does not deny the truth in order to escape culpability for poor performance.
For the sake of the residents of Gauteng and its economy, the DA will continue to offer its assistance to this vital department to ensure that the quality of life for all who reside in this province is improved.