Documents missing for R1.3bn Alexandra Renewal Project, inquiry hears

Protesters in Alexandra township in Johannesburg shut down the township over lack of service delivery, 3 April 2019. Roads were barricaded and blocked with burning tyres, as hundreds marched demanding better basic services. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The AG’s office couldn’t audit water and sanitation, roads and storm water projects, and the Gauteng department of human settlement’s procurement.

The Auditor-General (AG) on Friday said he failed to find all the answers to questions regarding the more than R1 billion “allocated” for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) – simply because some relevant documents were missing.

On 9 June 2001, then president Thabo Mbeki, rolled up his sleeves and planted a tree to mark the launch of the R1.3 billion ARP – a sweeping plan to regenerate the urban slum in Johannesburg that borders an affluent neighbour, Sandton.

More than a decade later restless residents are asking what happened to the renewal project and the money.

“There was poor project planning and a lack of documentation to assess the planning of the project. In addition, the individual projects within the ARP were not effectively implemented and monitored,” said Kevish Lachman, the business executive at the AG’s office.

“Due to lack of documents for auditing, we could not conclude on all the questions as set out.”

Lachman made the shocking revelation on Friday at the Alexandra Inquiry that was held by the South African Human Rights Commission in Braamfontein.

He said various government departments contributed resources towards the ARP including human settlements, City of Johannesburg, transport and economic development. (See graphic below.)

The aim of the inquiry, which started on Monday, was to investigate, raise findings, report on and make recommendations concerning alleged violations of the rights contained in the Bill of Rights, improper conduct and maladministration as they relate to people residing in Alexandra.

“Our audit procedures were limited to electrification and some building projects. We did not have sufficient information to audit water and sanitation, roads and storm water projects, and the Gauteng department of human settlement’s procurement,” said Lachman.

“As part of the audit, we established that urban renewal projects had different objectives that addressed the needs of their respective communities, which led to their outcomes being different.

“These cross-cutting findings included poor project management, planning, departmental support and departmental cooperation.”

The AG recommended a re-assessment of the original business plans to ensure that these projects are still aligned to the needs of their communities and also called for an improved way in which the ARP is monitored.

African News Agency (ANA)

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