Florida Heights Housing Project raises red flags

Issued by Sanele Magaqa, MPL
Shadow MEC for Human Settlements

The Florida Heights Housing Project in Nelson Mandela Bay raises a number of red flags, and the Democratic Alliance will be keeping a close watch on the development.

The November 25th letter from former Mayor Mongameli Bobani which was sent to the developer, William Charles of Sakhisizwe Renewable Energy, committed the municipality to immediately pay R36,4 million of the R100 million set aside for the project.

The letter states: “The NMBM irrevocably commits to making available facilities that it has committed to the project in accordance with the agreed implementation schedule of the project.

“In line with the above and the council resolution of the 4th of December 2018, the Municipality commits to the immediate dispense and release of the amount of R36,450,360 for planning and bulk services irrevocably.”

[Download Letter]

This commitment by former mayor Bobani was made with no signed agreement in place, nor any money set aside for it in the city’s budget, as the funds were to come from a revised loan application which was never brought back before the council for its approval.

Also, an environmental impact assessment has yet to be authorised and the municipality has not signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the developer.

The Democratic Alliance is deeply concerned by the former Mayor’s insistence to push forward with releasing significant funding for this project, despite the necessary checks and balances being in place.

In the letter, Bobani also says the project has the full support of both provincial and national Human Settlements departments and refers to additional R39-million in funding from the provincial department.

I have therefore submitted questions to both the MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Xolile Nqatha, and the MEC of Human Settlements, Nonkqubela Pieters, relating to the Florida Heights Housing Project, requesting clarity on the matter.

Should it come to light that any funding has been released before the necessary legal processes have been completed, the DA will report the same as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and will insist that the funds be reclaimed from the officials involved, including former Mayor Bobani.