A toilet saga has hit the Eastern Cape and embarrassed the provincial government after the Mbhashe municipality in Dutywa built 200 toilets – but without houses for them.

There is now concern that the contractor has left the site and the toilets are now being vandalised, while the municipality says it does not have money to build the houses as the funds have been “used for something else”.

Opposition parties have called for an investigation into why the houses were not built when the impoverished Govan Mbeki township residents were desperate for housing.

The housing project was funded by the provincial government to build housing units for about 200 households in Dutywa. The contractor who built the toilets is now nowhere to be found, leaving the houses unbuilt. Some of the toilets have been vandalised and some have sunk into the ground.

Veliswa Myenya, the DA provincial spokesperson for local government, said she had written to MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyane and Human Settlement’s Helen Sauls-August demanding they account for the failed project.

Mvenya said she wanted to know whether any steps would be taken against officials from the municipality and the contractor, “who should be blacklisted if found guilty”.

Municipal communication officer Given Ntshikilana said the toilets were built last year. “The municipality has no function of building houses. Why then shouldn’t we utilise the money for something else,” said Ntshikilana.

Mvenya said Qoboshiyane and Sauls-August should investigate the project to ensure that those involved were held accountable.

“The Eastern Cape recorded the highest level of irregular expenditure in the past financial year, amounting to R2.7bn. It is particularly frustrating considering that R500m of its municipal infrastructure grant was withdrawn by the National Treasury because the province failed to spend the money,” said Mvenya.

Mvenya said the DA believed in accountable government to deliver service to all. “This cannot be achieved if the ruling party does not take action against lazy officials and irresponsible contractors. People do not have to put up with this. People need not live in shacks, get water from a standpipe and use buckets.”

Provincial spokesperson for human settlements Lwandile Sicwetsha was not able to confirm whether the letter had reached Sauls-August’s office.

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