Johannesburg - Gauteng MEC for human settlements and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Lebogang Isaac Maile has moved to dismiss allegations that his family and ANC politicians had misappropriated about R1.3billion meant for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) without any work being done.
The ARP was launched in 2001 by former president Thabo Mbeki as part of several urban renewal initiatives across the country.
In recent years the project has been surrounded by mounting controversy as key politically connected figures, including Maile’s brother, Mike Maile, have been accused, including by the DA and the EFF, of embezzling the funds meant for houses and bulk infrastructure for the people of Alexandra.
Maile said the accusations were being widely spread without evidence, adding that the provincial government was able to account for money spent on the project, of which Mike was a project manager between 2003 and 2004.
“The ARP budget was estimated to be R1.3bn for over a period of seven years. It should be stated that the said R1.3bn was never a ringfenced amount where a particular individual or official was responsible. This amount was a total sum of contributions that were going to be made by all spheres of government as well as by all provincial departments,” Maile said.
He said those who managed the project did not personally handle the funds as respective government spheres and departments were responsible for the projects they initiated as part of contributing to the ARP.
“Departments and the City of Joburg were expected to come up with projects that they, within their mandate and capacities, were going to implement. This amount was informed by the ARP business plan that had been put together at that time,”Maile said.
He said a lot of work was done via the ARP for residents of Alex, considered one of the country’s poorest and most densely populated areas. “Through the records at our disposal, the ARP has delivered a number of projects ranging from housing projects to bulk infrastructure to social infrastructure,” he said.
He said these included extensions 7 and 8 in Far East Bank in the township, where 1 700 and 181 units were built, respectively. Maile said the ARP had also overseen the construction 840 double-storey units and 1 424 semi-detached double-storey houses with two rental rooms, which were constructed between 2009 and 2011.
He said spheres of government had spent R1.4bn of the ARP, with the provincial human settlements R600m, the City of Joburg R463m, municipal infrastructure grant R173m, human settlement fund R88m, economic development R15m and transport R109m.
He said those who managed the ARP, including his brother, were not in control of the funds. “Through this demonstration, it buries the falsehood that has been spread by many political figures that the ARP funds were misappropriated to benefit certain politically connected individuals and families,” Maile said.
“Whether the R1.4bn was enough and whether what has been done is enough is another issue, but to say nothing has been done is not true,” he added. Maile recently opened a case of crimen injuria against EFF provincial chairperson Mandisa Mashego after she had said Maile and his relatives had looted the money that was meant for building houses for Alexandra residents.
“We’re not saying there’s not been corruption. “We do not know but people are saying there has been corruption. We are saying if there has been, please provide information,” he said.