IFP HON. S MOODLEY, MPL
KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Pietermaritzburg
The IFP supports the R11.63 billion budget allocation for the 2020/2021 financial year.
However, we wish to highlight the following issues that warrant immediate attention.
We would like to register our unequivocal disquiet over how the Department of Transport has handled its finances in the previous financial years, as indicated by the latest Auditor-General findings. This Department’s finances have been in shambles.
According to the findings, this Department lost R14.11 billion on irregular expenditure, as it failed to follow proper tender procedures under the watch of former MEC, Hon. M Kaunda, during the 2018/19 financial year.
This amount of irregular expenditure has been increasing over the years, indicating a complete disregard of SCM policies and regulations within the Transport Department.
Our major concern about this irregular expenditure is that it could have been prevented if the leadership was serious about putting an end to it. Instead there is no evidence showing that disciplinary steps were taken against officials who incurred irregular expenditure. There are just no justifiable reasons for a department to incur irregular expenditure of R14.11 billion.
We urge the Hon. MEC to ensure that the accounting officer is held accountable as to why the irregular and wasteful expenditure occurred.
Furthermore, the Department underspent the budget by R265.94 million on transport infrastructure due to delays in infrastructure projects, yet we have witnessed many violent protests around the province by communities demanding road infrastructure.
This Department did not investigate or act against ten (10) cases of improper SCM conduct whereby suppliers submitted false declarations of interest, thirteen (13) cases where officials failed to disclose their own interests and that of close family members – contracts to the value of R92 million.
BUDGET CUTS ON ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE
We hope that this Department will do better in this current financial year however, we have noted with concern the substantial budget cuts on the Department’s Programme 2. The reduction of equitable share of R64.583 million, which led to the Department to not be in a position to undertake any significant reprioritisation, is not good for this Province. Also, the reduction of R246.696 million for the 2020/21 MTEF of Provincial Roads Maintenance grant (PRMG), is of huge concern to us as the IFP.
It is a problem for our people that important road projects will be halted by the impact of these cuts, as the Department has already indicated that it will not be able to implement projects such as the additional camera network coverage required on the N2 North, which will have an impact on planned law enforcement and road safety programmes.
Last year the Hon MEC spoke about Road D1841, which is located in uMkhanyakude District. Currently, this road is being upgraded from gravel to blacktop, to assist communities of uMkhanyakude with safer access to local schools, clinics and the police station. The construction of this road from Ndumo to Mbadleni started in 2017. We would like to know from the Hon. MEC, what progress has been made so far in the completion of this road?
BUDGET CUT ON EPWP GRANT
The most disturbing budget cut to us is the one against the EPWP Integrated Grant. The Province was impacted by the budget cuts with a reduction from R71 million in 2019, to R63 million in 2020, which is a huge blow on the poor as this has been an effective poverty alleviation tool for many.
We all have witnessed the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in all sectors. The transport sector has undoubtedly been negatively affected but measures have been implemented to ensure that this sector is safe for all users. To this end, we commend the Hon. MEC, and all stakeholders in the sector who have responded to the ‘new normal’. Social distancing practices as well as sanitising public transport have become an essential COVID-19 safety response, and the transport sector have implemented these in the interests of commuters. We urge traffic police and all law enforcement to continue to monitor that these measures are being carried out and adhered to at all times.
The IFP is concerned about road carnage. We therefore urge the Ho.n MEC to fulfil the promise he made that as the Department they will redouble their efforts to ensure that the proposed interventions to curb road deaths – including the implementation of the AARTO (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences) Act and demerit point system – are carried out. We also call for 24-hour traffic police visibility on our roads.
For far too long, critical posts have been left vacant, hampering the effective functioning of the Department. These posts should be immediately filled with competent people. As with all other posts, the IFP strongly opposes cadre deployment and nepotism. We urge the Hon. MEC to ensure that this process is expedited.
BUS vs TAXI SUBSIDY
It is a well-known fact that the taxi industry is left out in the cold by the Department when it comes to subsidies. The IFP wants to know why the Department has allocated R1.2 million on bus subsidies when this industry only belongs to a few individuals? The IFP reiterates its call for a taxi subsidy to be implemented. We urge the Hon. MEC to look into this matter with the urgency it deserves.
The IFP urges the Hon. MEC to ensure that Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act is enforced in his Department. The Hon. MEC must also ensure that contractors are paid on time, within the 30-day period.
We urge the Hon. MEC to ensure that corruption is eradicated in the issuing of learners and drivers’ licences. This will eradicate unnecessary road carnage. Corruption must be eradicated, even from the RTI. Corrupt traffic police officers must be reported and arrested. By accepting bribes, they are contributing to road accidents.
I thank you.