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Mariri Ralefatane, Speaker of Polo­kwane Municipality, presides at the special council meeting.

Municipal affairs: Progress with capital projects a major concern

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Despite huge backlogs in the provision of services to especially rural communities and ageing infrastructure in the city that is characterised by interruption of services, Polokwane Municipality did not make noticeable progress with spending of the capital budget during the first six months of the current financial year.
After six months of the 2016/17 financial year that ends on 30 June, Polokwane Municipality had, at the end of December, only recorded 18% expenditure on capital projects and the possibility exists that funds earmarked for projects for provision of essential services will not be utilised before 30 June. The Democratic Alliance (DA) also urged Polo­kwane Executive Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng to probe two incomplete infrastructure projects worth more than R75 million in Ga-Molepo and Ga-Chuene which failed to meet their deadlines by three months.
Only 18% spent over first six months of financial year
A report tabled in council last Tuesday revealed that payments amounting to R199 026 510 were made for capital works completed during the first six months that started on 1 July 2016. This adds up to only 18% of the total annual budget of
R1 096 467 000.
In the report, acting Municipal Manager Ndavhe Ramakuela stated that the spending was negatively affected by the municipal elections in August “since the municipality did not want to over-commit the incoming council and this led to delayed implementation of capital projects.” Acting Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality Matshidiso Mothapo also commented, saying that the low expenditure was due to the fact that the municipality waited for the new council to be sworn in. “At the time the municipality was in a transitional period of amalgamation with the former Aganang Municipality and therefore a report had to be presented in council for the new council to approve which projects should be implemented in the two areas. It was after this process that service providers could be appointed and projects be implemented,” Mothapo said and added that capital expenditure by nature follows an S-curve pattern, whereby expenditure starts at a low pace and then accelerates in the second half of the year. “By comparison, this is evident when compared to the prior financial year where capital expenditure was at 21% on 31 December 2015. Due to the S-curve pattern that is characteristic of capital expenditure, payments accelerated to 94% as at 30 June 2016,” Mothapo explained.
DA media release
In a media release, DA councillor in the municipality Tiny Chidi stated that projects were initially primed for completion by November and December 2016, but the appointed contractors instead requested a five-month extension. This has left the residents deprived of the most basic service delivery of clean and running water in their homes.
The DA reckons that the contractors are ill-equipped to complete the projects due to inadequate operating finances. “The municipality has received requests from contractors to inject R10 million additional funding to carry out the projects, however no reports outlining valid reasons for the extension were provided,” the DA said.
The DA urged Nkadimeng to launch an internal investigation to probe the abandoned projects and to ensure that no further budgets are allocated to these projects until the contractors are summoned to appear in council to account for their delay.
Acting Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality, Matshidiso Mothapo, said that the municipality is not aware of any written request in this regard. “No such a letter has been received from the DA by the Executive Mayor’s Office nor the Municipal Manager’s,” Mothapo confirmed and added that the Executive Mayor’s office can only respond to official correspondence as per rules of Council and not “based on media statements that are meant to mislead the public”.

Story & photo: BARRY VILJOEN
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