Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
27 Jun 2019
4:12 pm

Human settlements MEC vows to withhold housing backlog funds from DA-EFF coalition 

Kaunda Selisho

Maile expressed this in an official letter to Mashaba, pertaining to unutilised Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) funds by the City.

Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile. Picture: Michel Bega

In his ongoing battle with Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile has vowed to withhold funds allocated for the purposes of tackling the province’s massive housing backlog because “there is no political will by the DA-EFF governing coalition to utilise the funds for housing”.

Maile expressed this in an official letter to Mashaba, pertaining to unutilised Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) funds by the City.

The ongoing dispute between the pair was sparked by allegations of corruption in the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).

Maile has been linked to alleged corruption in the R1.3 billion renewal project – allegations which he has vehemently denied.

At the height of the first wave of protests in the Alex Shutdown, Mashaba pointed to Maile, among others, labelling them contributors to the lack of service delivery in Alexandra.

Maile retaliated by accusing Mashaba of deflecting from the shortcomings of his government.

In the latest instalment of their dispute, Maile brought the mayor’s wife into the fracas by posing a question in a tweet about her involvement in Phatsima properties, a subsidiary of Growthpoint properties, which does work for the city.

The mayor reportedly once had a 40% indirect beneficial interest in Phatsima through the Herman and Connie Mashaba Trust. Mashaba has explained his link to Phatsima, stating that it commenced before his appointment as mayor. He added that he has since cut ties with Growthpoint.

But Maile pressed on with his questions.

Those who were following the exchange in pursuit of answers tried to help Maile coerce an answer out of Mashaba, but he dismissed their attempts by insinuating that Maile was suffering from “mental challenges.”

Maile took exception to Mashaba’s reference to “mental challenges” and responded by speaking out against the mayor’s use of a serious health issue as an insult.

Maile then followed up his Twitter responses to Mashaba in a formal letter distributed by his department.

In the letter, Maile explained that his department re-channelled “sizable funds,” through the HSDG “for purposes of tackling the massive housing backlog, mostly affecting poor and working-class communities in Johannesburg and surrounding areas.”

According to Maile, an audit was carried-out on budgeted human settlements projects to be implemented by the City of Johannesburg on behalf of Gauteng Provincial Government.

“MEC Maile is concerned that the City of Johannesburg hasn’t substantially spent funds given to them for human settlements to tackle the housing backlog [and] vows to withhold such funds, since there is no political will by the DA-EFF governing coalition to utilise such funds for housing,” read part of the letter.

The latest letter cites another letter written to Mashaba in which Maile highlighted the following unfulfilled and budgeted projects:

“During the past two financial years, namely, 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively, the Department transferred a total amount of R181 832 675 to the COJ for the following projects, to which no units have been delivered.

  • Lufhereng: R73 449 998 for 506 houses
  • South Hills: R86 207 164 for 300 units
  • Lehae: R16 799 631 for 125 houses
  • Kliptown: R 5 375 882 for 40 houses.”

In addition to the above, MEC Maile also pointed out to the City:

“We would also like to bring to your attention that the Department has in the current financial year 2019/20, allocated a total amount of R 226 618 394 for the following projects;

  • South Hills: R22 469 705
  • Vlakfontein Lehae: R55 102 790
  • Lufhereng: R149 046 328.”

Maile went on to explain that he holds the view that the DA-EFF governing coalition in the City of Johannesburg has no intention to work with other spheres of government to improve service delivery and provide much-needed services geared towards improving the living conditions of the city’s people.

“Your office has repeatedly indicated that they will not sign any tripartite agreements, all these agreements were prepared and are still with your legal department, some since September last year (2018). We appreciate that the Riverside agreement was signed reflecting signs of good progress with such collaboration bearing fruits,” wrote Maile, quoting a part of previous correspondence to Mashaba’s office.

“In light of the continued failure by the City of Johannesburg, MEC Maile has indicated Government’s intention to withhold the Grant going forward and explore other avenues to deliver the housing projects. This is necessary since the City has no desire nor will to build housing units for low-income and poor communities,” added Maile.

To this effect, the department has reportedly approached the municipality and proposed collaboration through a tripartite agreement which would permit the department to manage, monitor and pay the developers directly, whilst the municipality assumes the responsibility for the installation of services.

Maile cautioned Mashaba and his team against the politicisation of service delivery.

“MEC Maile has committed to work with all Mayors in the province with the sole intention of bringing services to the people of Gauteng,” concluded the letter.

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