The Democratic Alliance (DA) claims that the Polokwane Municipality is planning to return a staggering R188 million of conditional grants aimed to upgrade ailing water infrastructure projects back to the National Treasury after failing to spend the money on various projects aimed at improving the lives of Polokwane residents.
During a council meeting held on 27 August, the municipality however noted that an application has been made to the National Treasury to roll-over the unspent funds.
The motivation for the application complied with the criteria required for a successful application and inter alia proved that the projects have commenced or that the funding thereof had been committed.
David Setjie, DA councillor at Polokwane Municipality, in a media release issued recently, stated that the DA has written to Polokwane Executive Mayor, Thembi Nkadimeng requesting her to probe the underspending and act swiftly against officials being responsible for delaying the projects.
“It is alleged that the delay was done deliberately as the targeted companies owned by ANC bigwigs had too many projects to deal with and opted to ignore the emerging companies that are owned by ordinary citizens not affiliated with the ANC,” the statement read.
It further stated that it was clear that the municipality finds itself in a financial crisis and therefore cannot be allowed to underspend grants while people continue to suffer. Setjie added that the DA believes that urgent action is needed to put plans in place for the municipality by employing qualified and suitable officials to run the financial affairs of the municipality and to ensure that grants are spent adequately in this financial year.
In a media release, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Tuesday also expressed dismay at the fact that the money had not been spent and describes it as “negligence”. The EFF says a caring government “will never return grants when our people need water”.
Tidimalo Chuene, Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality could not comment on the issue as yet, save to say that the Speaker’s office was dealing with the matter. The documents relating to the application to the National Treasury formed part of the agenda provided to all councillors present, including Setjie.
Story: BARRY VILJOEN