Under spending on capital expenditure (infrastructure) at both national and provincial level are impacting negatively on the Eastern Cape.
The latest shocker has been the withdrawal of R7, 2 billion of the Schools Infrastructure Backlogs Grant (a national programme) by the national treasury due to slow spending. This was announced in the Medium Term Policy Statement (page 43) of the Minister of Finance last week. See link.
The vast proportion of this money – in the region of R6, 2 billion — was earmarked for the eradication of mud schools in the Eastern Cape. This is a severe blow to the province when it comes to eradicating mud structures schools. Over 400 mud structure schools should have been eradicated by the end of the 2013/14 financial year. This time it is the national department of Basic Education that is failing to see that this money is spent.
At provincial level the Eastern Cape continues its slow under-spend on capital. According to the National Treasury’s second quarter statement of receipts and payments, ended 30 September 2012, the Eastern Cape had spent only 29,3% of its capital budget. Health has spent 27.1%, education 29,4 and human settlements 21% of their capital budgets.
The terrible tragedy of this infrastructure under spending crisis gripping the Eastern Cape is that we are not facing a shortage of money but rather the capacity to spend.
The DA believes that two simple steps can be taken to improve service delivery:
1. There needs to be competency testing for senior managers where there is repeated under performance. This will ensure that the emphasis is shifted from “turn around plans” to where the real problem lies – with the people responsible.
2. There needs to be real accountability within departments and between the Premier and MECs. Performance agreements need to be signed at all levels and need to be enforced.
The Premier of the province, Noxolo Kiviet must show leadership and ensure that those people responsible for continued under spending are fired. Madam Premier, stop protecting a politically connected elite and start delivery services to the people of this province who are desperate for change.
Annette Lovemore, shadow minister of basic education will raise this issue in the national portfolio meeting to demand accountability for this disaster and Edmund van Vuuren, Shadow MEC for Education in the Eastern Cape, will continue to fight for the eradication of mud structure schools in the province.
We need to break out of this cycle of under spending. With good leadership and management the Eastern Cape could roar ahead and become a place of rising opportunity for all.