Amajuba District Municipality and other district municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal are facing criticism for underspending on Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIG).
The National Treasury had previously threatened to stop funding the Amajuba District Municipality due to its understanding.
Despite this, the situation has not improved, seeing the Democratic Alliance (DA) now calling on KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZN COGTA) MEC, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, to take action.
The DA is concerned about the slow pace of spending, particularly given that the grant is intended for infrastructure development.
Furthermore, the end of the financial year is approaching, and the funding is still unspent. The slow expenditure of MIG funding is leading to some municipalities losing this critical grant funding altogether, according to Martin Meyer, DA KZN Spokesperson on CoGTA.
Meyer highlighted some of the worst offenders in the province: uMkhanyakude, which has only spent 26% and lost R30 million. uThukela District Municipality, which returned R40 million to the National Treasury due to underspending. Amajuba has only spent 38.9%, Nquthu has spent just 46.8%, and Big 5 Hlabisa has only spent 51% of its grant.
Meyer further emphasised that this failure to spend available funds is unacceptable and is a slap in the face to KZN’s millions of residents who continue to suffer as a result of poor service delivery.
The severe damage to infrastructure across the province during last year’s floods only makes the lack of expenditure even more disturbing, Meyer stressed.
The DA welcomed the CoGTA portfolio committee chairperson’s undertaking to ask for a joint meeting with the national counterparts in an effort to find out why KZN’s COGTA MIG allocations recommendations weren’t followed.
MEC Sithole-Moloi noted in April 2023 that the Province had adopted a Risk-Adjusted Approach with the implementation of these grants. This was to mitigate risk through early planning across project planning, registration, procurement, and implementation.
Engagements were held with KZN municipalities in October 2022, in which Acceleration Plans were presented, analysed, and critiqued, Sithole-Moloi explained.
KZN COGTA encouraged WSAs to consider a split of their MIG allocation, which prioritises water projects and the maintenance of existing infrastructure, in line with the allowable limits contained in the DORA.
The KZN Premier had previously called for greater oversight and support, and Sithole-Moloi now wants at least a 20% improvement in each of these grants in the 2023/2024 financial year.
With further calls to step in, it remains to be seen whether the Amajuba District and its neighbouring District Municipalities will see an improvement in their MIG expenditure.
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I greatly agree with Meyer’s statement, it’s really alarming how low per percentage each municipality under spends on infrastructure development when tax payers suffer lack of service delivery.
The infrastructure has been detoriating and less is being done to meet the required service delivery.