Cape Town - Mayor Patricia de Lille has accused Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu of politicising housing delivery by withholding funds needed for housing infrastructure, despite being told by the National Treasury to release them.
If the money is not released, several projects could come to a “screeching halt”, De Lille says.
Sisulu’s office says the City of Cape Town is not being targeted – it is withholding funds from all metropolitan municipalities because it is concerned that the money is not being used for its intended purpose.
The funds are not for the construction of homes, but to help municipalities pay for basic infrastructure.
The department was to have transferred the money last month.
De Lille said the city had asked for R50.3 million for infrastructure in anticipation of the city’s gaining accreditation that would give it more control over housing delivery.
In her latest newsletter on Sunday, De Lille lambasted Sisulu for not releasing the municipal human settlements capacity grant used to roll out projects.
The minister and department had not consulted the city and National Treasury before taking this decision, she said.
An interruption to cash flow was serious and it could bring projects to a stop. It meant the city could not pay for materials or contractors, which “means no delivery”.
“Unfortunately, in the case of Cape Town, this state of affairs may suit minister Sisulu’s agenda against our city. Indeed, since being reinstalled in this ministry after the 2014 elections, she has made two other decisions of political consequence for us,” De Lille wrote.
This was a reference to the ministerial inquiry into the Lwandle evictions and Sisulu’s stopping the accreditation process launched by her predecessor, Connie September.
“We will be engaging with stakeholders in the provincial government and the National Treasury about this decision and yes, also with the national Department of Human Settlements.”
She had written to the National Treasury, which she said had instructed the national department to release the funds or face being reported to Parliament.
“But given (the department’s) recent behaviour, and our questions regarding their commitment to service delivery, we will approach those negotiations cautiously, but armed with the knowledge that we not only have the power of the law on our side, but the mandate of the people of Cape Town.”
Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said letters of concern had been received from the City of Joburg and other municipalities that had not received the funding.
Before releasing the funds, the department wanted municipalities to provide thorough business plans and details of what they would use the money for. The department was also concerned about the quality of houses built by some municipalities. Others had failed to build enough houses.
“There have been instances in the past where this money was not used for capacity building and we are worried about that,” Mabaya said.
The decision not to transfer funds was taken by the minister in consultation with the MECs, who included Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela.
Referring to De Lille’s comment that projects would be brought to a halt, Mabaya said: “It is not like they won’t be able to work without the money.”
Mabaya said the department was in discussion with the South African Local Government Association, which represents the municipalities.