By Ntombi Mhlongo
Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane could not help but nod and shake his head as Members of Parliament (MPs) made allegations to the effect that there was a lot of rot at the ministry.
This was during the adoption of the ministry’s budget at the House of Assembly on Monday. The MPs claimed that there were individuals who appointed themselves to be mayors and councillors despite having well-paying jobs as civil servants. This means they get two cheques from the government purse.
According to the MPs, so serious is the issue that there are even individuals who are mayors of more than three towns. They said the individuals are paid sitting allowances which come from taxpayers’ pockets and will receive gratuity in the coming months.
“One of them is a mayor in four towns and to me, this is shocking. If we can let this go, we will have failed the nation. The minister must come here and tell us how these people ended up being mayors,” submitted Ndzingeni MP Lutfo Dlamini.
He said at an area called Mhobodlweni, the controlling officer, this being the Principal Secretary, is the mayor and this intimidates residents from questioning anything. He said the national budget for the upcoming fiscal year has an allocation of E20 million for the municipalities and that the money should not be released.
The MPs also referred to a tender worth about E12 million meant for the provision of a system that will coordinate the upcoming elections for
municipalities. They claimed that there were some irregularities in the manner in which the tender was granted as it went to a more expensive company.
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They asked to know why the system was needed in the first place when the bye-elections were conducted successfully by the Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP).
Kukhanyeni MP Malavi Sihlonyane submitted that a select committee should be elected to probe the tender so that if there are individuals who did not do things according to the law, they should be made to account.
Something needs to be done
Interestingly, the Chairperson of the ministry’s portfolio committee Thandi Nxumalo concurred with the MPs that there was a lot wrong at the ministry and that something needs to be done.
She mentioned that she has already communicated with the minister that there were some irregularities especially when it comes to elections at the municipality level.
The MPs resolved that the E20 million be put under Head 60. In the budgetary field, the ministries are classified under statutory obligations and Head 60 means money is allocated but who’s going to spend it and how is not yet certain.
Government allocates money under Head 60 to ensure that once it is needed and it a determination has been made on how it is going to be used, it is readily available.