The dream that the peaceful village of Qunu, the home of Nelson Mandela, would be developed into a state-of-the-art city, has been scrapped, five years after the initiation of the project that has cost the tax payers tens of millions, with nothing to show for it.
This is money that could have been spent on addressing the massive housing backlog and building houses for the poor!
Initiated in 2012 by then Human Settlements MEC, Helen Sauls-August, the aim of this project was to create “an international special purpose city” on the theme “A Reflection on Humanity”.
Qunu City was going to be the first modern city built by the ANC government to honour Nelson Mandela’s legacy and increase economic activity in the area. The plans were to see Qunu grazing land turned into a buzzing city with hotels, banks, tourism accommodation facilities, an international leadership college and conferencing facilities.
What has been accomplished, however, is tens of millions of rands have been spent on consultants, with the project now scrapped as it became evident that there was no possible hope of it ever reaching fruition.
During a parliamentary committee on Human Settlements sitting in the Provincial Legislature this week, it was revealed that over R46 million has been allocated to the project since 2013.
With an estimated cost of billions, those in favour of the project said donors and investors would assist with providing sufficient budget for the project. However, when questioned about the investments received, the Department admitted that there was no information of funds raised through donations.
Further concerns were identified, including the lack of buy-in from other departments resulting in Human Settlements being forced to shoulder the financial burden alone, as well as the fact that the Department was unable to produce the feasibility report, despite over R4,8 million having been paid for it.
The money allocated to this project over the past five years could have delivered around 300 new RDP houses.
A Democratic Alliance-led government would ensure that public funds are spent on meeting the basic needs of the people first, such as addressing the significant backlog of housing in the province.