Budget for substance abuse centre in R20 million confusion

By Dr Isak Fritz MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Social Development:

While the DA welcomes the establishment of a drug rehabilitation centre in Kimberley, we are calling on Social Development MEC, Mxolisi Sokatsha, to provide clarity on the available budget for the project.

The MEC yesterday announced that a R60 million drug and alcohol abuse treatment centre will be constructed on a section of the new Kimberley Mental Hospital grounds. The Medium Term Expenditure Framework, however, indicates that a conditional grant of only R40 million, which is broken up into R22 million in 2015/16 and R18 million in 2016/2017 respectively, has been set aside for the construction of the facility.

The matter of the new facility not being within budget first came to light in May this year, in reply to a DA parliamentary question by Minister Dlamini. At the time, she revealed that the projected cost for the facility was R84,5 million. She also indicated that the projected cost for the facility was much more than for similar substance abuse centers being constructed in the North West and the Eastern Cape, which are set to cost only R30,5 million and R48,7 million respectively.

The department explained in a committee meeting in August this year that the reason why the costs of the NW and EC facilities are less, is because these province are merely upgrading existing structures while the Northern Cape is building a new structure from scratch. What the department however failed to explain was from where the department will be sourcing the additional funds to cover the costs of the facility. The MEC has also previously failed to reply to a parliamentary question regarding the budget for the new rehabilitation center that was already submitted in July this year.

It concerns the DA that the department is willfully choosing not to speak openly on this issue.

Given the available facts, we suspect that the department is in fact overextending itself, with little regard for budgetary processes.

The DA will continue to attempt to seek clarity from MEC Sokatsha on this matter and has today written him a letter in this regard.

It is in the interests of all those afflicted by addiction that the construction of the facility be done in an open and transparent manner, so that the commencement of in-patient services can commence as soon as possible.

Otherwise we might well end up with another mental health hospital on our hands, despite Sokathsha’s sentiments that “we hope and pray that it will not replicate the example set by the new mental hospital”.