Pietermaritzburg - Despite being home to crumbling infrastructure and underdevelopment mainly in former black areas, KwaZulu-Natal municipalities are not adequately utilising the municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) availed by the National Treasury.
The grants are divided into different categories, some are for developing water infrastructure, and others for developing economically stimulating nodes in townships.
On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Bongi Sithole-Moloi, revealed that as of April 2023, a total of R1.17 billion was unspent by municipalities in the province.
Sithole-Moloi revealed this during a meeting with mayors, speakers, and administrators from all 34 municipalities in the province to understand the reasons behind the underspending.
She said she was concerned since the municipal financial year was coming to an by the end of this month.
“According to the April 2023 Division of Revenue Act (Dora) reports, an amount of more than R1.17 billion that was allocated for the MIG remains unutilised across all municipalities in the province, despite the urgent need for essential services.
NEWS: Despite crumbling infrastructure and underdevelopment mainly in former black areas, KZN municipalities are not adequately utilizing the municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) availed by the National Treasury.— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) June 6, 2023
“While it is expected that the unspent amount will decrease by the end of the month, the MEC is worried that additional funds might remain unutilised, which could further delay service delivery in municipalities,” Sithole-Moloi’s department said after the end of the closed-door session.
It added that the MEC was committed to finding solutions to the challenge.
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“During the engagement MEC Sithole-Moloi strongly urged municipalities to enhance their planning processes and reduce unspent funds in the upcoming financial year.
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“As the department responsible for supporting municipalities in preventing the discontinuation of funds and improving overall performance for timely service delivery, MEC Moloi has notified all affected municipalities of the need to engage in deliberations.
“These discussions will identify the reasons for under expenditure, reassess implementation plans for the remaining grant balance, and ensure proper planning for the next financial year.”
Although the municipalities that are falling behind were not revealed, the ANC-run eThekwini, the economic hub of the province, is one of them.
In April this year, “IOL” reported that eThekwini lost two critical infrastructure grants after failing to utilise them.
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It first lost a R100 million Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) which is given to the country’s metros to acquire and develop urban land for informal settlement eradication purposes.
Despite being home to the largest informal settlements in the province, and the country, the metro failed to utilise the funds accordingly and had to part with the budgeted funds.
In the same month, the city failed to adequately spend its neighbourhood development grant even though most of its black townships need it.
As a result, the City lost R122 million of the grant while other cities like Ekurhuleni were able to spend theirs and were given additional funds.
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Late last month, Councillor Thys Janse van Rensburg, the chairperson of the DA in the Uthukela region in northern KwaZulu-Natal, revealed that the IFP-run Uthukela district was set to lose by returning R40 million of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) to Treasury in the current financial year.
This is while many communities in the district have endured daily weekly water shedding for months.