Western Cape’s local government department spent R5m on Covid-19 hotspots
Cape Town - The Department of Local Government has spent R5 million of its R27m budget on the response to the pandemic in hotspot areas, according to head of department Graham Paulse.
Paulse said the money was advanced to the Department of Health “as they have the platform to do this better than we can”.
He was speaking before the standing committee on local government, where the department presented its first quarterly expenditure and performance report from April 1 to June 30.
Paulse described the lack of compliance with pandemic regulations in the hotspot areas as “civil disobedience”.
“In most of the hotspot areas where we have seen civil disobedience, we have consulted with academics and psychologists to see what we can do to influence behavioural change in this regard,” said Paulse.
“This is a real challenge and on a weekly basis, we hear it continues to be a problem.”
Paulse said some of the municipalities were already experiencing financial difficulties before the lockdown, and the department was tasked with assisting municipalities to restore their cash flow.
The department’s chief financial officer Bhavna Sewlall-Singh spoke on the overspending and underspending aspects.
“Some of the overspending relates to the additional capacity required to assist disaster management during the pandemic on a three-month contract basis, with the option to extend this depending on the need and overtime approved for the activation of the disaster management centre,” said Sewlall-Singh.
“Other overspending was in relation to R16.2m approved during April for the department to provide financial assistance to municipalities towards humanitarian relief initiatives.
“The underspending relates funds identified to be re-prioritised towards humanitarian relief transferred to municipalities during April.”
The department said it had to procure laptops in response to the alternative working arrangements such as working from home during levels 4 and 5 of lockdown.
The department’s director for policy and strategy support, Albert Dlwengu, told the committee that out of 60 indicators for the year, 12 were due for reporting in the first quarter.
“Of these, nine were fully adhered to, two were partially achieved, and one was not achieved,” said Dlwengu.
“The department developed a Covid-19 dashboard. This is a web-based, secure portal where disaster management stakeholders can access critical information to enhance their decision-making capability in relation to the pandemic.”