The ANC in council claims the stalled Maroela North housing project in Bloekombos is due to the City’s failure to utilise a R111m human settlements grant for the last financial year.
Instead, the City applied to national Treasury to use only R56m of this amount, ANC caucus leader Xolani Sotashe said in an ordinary council meeting on Wednesday December 15.
However, human settlements mayoral committee member Malusi Booi, in a telephonic interview with Northern News, said the project is not complete because the land was invaded.
A Parliamentary budget office document titled Performance on Human Settlements Conditional Grants, dated August 2021, shows R60m has been rerouted from the City to another municipality.
Speaking in council, Mr Sotashe said this directly affects the first phases of a Kraaifontein housing project that was first mooted in 2015.
Mr Sotashe noted a “misleading” R19m negative variance on human settlements projects. A “negative variance” is accounting parlance for a budget shortfall.
“Here (in the report), human settlements is not telling the whole truth. They are saying the negative variance is due to (Pooke se Bos and Sheffield Road, Philippi, housing projects) being behind schedule, but they’re not telling us that in the last financial year, they had R111m (R114m) available for the roll-over (from Treasury).”
He said the City did not apply for the full amount, electing to request only R56m, surrendering R58m to the national government.
“Yet the people of Cape Town need houses. The project that was supposed to be delivered in the area of Kraaifontein won’t be delivered now. It’s going to be delivered in the next financial year and the reasons for that is the problematic procurement services in the City,” Mr Sotashe said.
He said even the provincial government had registered complaints against the City’s procurement.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the mayoral committee is worried about the underspending. Mr Hill-Lewis described Mr Sotashe’s inputs as “factual” and “based on the numbers”.
“When we go and tax the public for certain services, we have to make sure we use the money. I want to make that absolutely clear: underspending isn’t an acceptable outcome, unless there are really good reasons that are unavoidable,” Mr Hill-Lewis said.
He added that he agreed with Mr Sotashe that council must be “very sceptical, interrogate and question reasons” of underspending.
Finance mayoral committee member Siseko Mbandezi said Mr Hill-Lewis is “unambiguous” about the under-expenditure being unacceptable.
According to the Parliament’s budget office document, an amount of R60m meant for the City has now been diverted to the Buffalo City metro in the Eastern Cape.
The City’s communication office asked Northern News to attribute a statement to the City, which said: “The City is looking into the particulars of this enquiry and will respond in due course.”
Speaking to Northern News, Mr Sotashe said the project is supposed to have been built in 2015. He said he does not have the specifics relating to the project.
In a meeting attended by Northern News in late 2015, the Sub-council 2 mooted a new housing project in Maroela in Bloekombos.
Mr Malusi Booi confirmed this to be the same project, but said it would be divided into two: Maroela North and Maroela South, the latter of which will be built near where there was a racecourse in Bloekombos.
Maroela North has come to a halt because it has been invaded, Mr Booi said.
He said a contractor will soon move on Maroela South.
“It has nothing to do with expenditure. We will re-purpose those funds (for Maroela North) to other projects,” Mr Booi said.
On Mr Sotashe’s comments in council, Mr Booi said: “He doesn’t understand finance. The R58m has been rolled over because we applied for a roll-over from Treasury.”