The IFP in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature notes the proposed Budget for 2021/22, tabled by the Hon. Nomusa Dube-Ncube on Tuesday, 9 March 2021, with concern. As could have been expected, the Provincial Budget has been hit very hard by the effects of Covid-19. The original KZN 2020/21 Budget stood at R138 182 164 (billion), adjusted to R139 533 912 (billion) in July 2021 to fight Covid-19. The 2021/22 financials emerged with a proposed budget of R133 670 022 (billion), a downscale that is not at all surprising.
We welcome the remarks by the Hon. MEC conceding that the country’s economic downturn took place long before Covid-19, bringing the country into a technical recession. The IFP has repeatedly preached the gospel of prudence in spending and called for a reflection of the values of integrity and honesty in those entrusted with the provincial purse. It was a breath of fresh air to hear the MEC emphasising, in her words, “the creation of a new cadre of civil servant”, that will ensure that KwaZulu-Natal serves the people “with integrity, honesty and humble service”. The IFP hopes that the provincial government will live up to this commitment, and circulate this ‘breath of fresh air’ approach amongst all its ranks.
The IFP welcomes the provincial allocation to infrastructure spending, as well as an economic development focus, in order to resuscitate our dwindling economy and revive the job opportunities that have been lost over a period of time. It is of concern that the province has continued to allocate funding for housing projects only to ANC-controlled municipalities in the province, and that no allocation has been mentioned for housing for any IFP-controlled municipalities. The IFP calls upon all provincial departments to ensure that projects that were stalled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, as well as those that are incomplete, are prioritised for immediate completion. These incomplete projects include roads all over the province, schools, hospitals and clinics, housing projects, sports facilities, water and electricity projects and ECD centres.
The IFP also calls upon MECs and the Premier to honour commitments made in communities where fanfare and sod-turning ceremonies took place to kick-start projects, yet those projects still remain a dream. The IFP calls upon the Department of Cooperative Governance, in particular, to stop utilising government coffers to fight party-political battles. This was the case in Nquthu, where an uncalled-for Section 139 intervention was instituted, only to be thrown out of the window by the National Minister of COGTA.
Of concern in this province is the total cumulative irregular expenditure, which is sitting at R44 billion for government departments, and just above R390 million for provincial government entities. Government entity Boards and staff should stop being a dumping ground for all the failed politicians and administrators. In order to revive the provincial economy, we need focused government entities that play a meaningful role in the upliftment of the provincial economy. This huge irregular expenditure shows that there is no impunity from irregular spending in the province. Most of our departments and entities still evade consequence management. Officials continue to commit wrongs related to finances and spending and avoid being disciplined.
The IFP reiterates its commitment to the people of KwaZulu-Natal that it will ensure that people who have stolen are brought to book, that monies stolen will be returned to government coffers and that politicians who collaborate with officials and service providers to squander public money will be exposed and charged accordingly.
Hon. VF Hlabisa, Leader of the Official Opposition in KZN Legislature and President of the IFP
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