Feebearing - Cape Town - 140520 - The first meeting of the new Mayoral Committee of Cape Town at the Civic Centre after the 2014 elections. Pictured: Executive Mayor of Cape Town - Patricia de Lille. REPORTER: ANEL LEWIS. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.

Cape Town - Opposition parties grilled Cape Town’s DA-led administration on Wednesday for rolling over R484 million of its capital spend in the proposed 2014/ 2015 adjustment budget, and its intention to roll over a further R500m by next January.

The ANC’s Xolani Sotashe said the combined underspend of close to R1 billion, pointed to the city’s poor planning and weak executive leadership. “We can’t even spend the money that is given to us by our own government. How are they (the city) going to correct this shame?”

The city’s proposed adjusted capital budget of R6.8bn, including roll-overs and sundry adjustments, was approved on Wednesday by the city council.

Peter Gabriel, also of the ANC, said that the amount to be rolled over was “shocking”.

“This is a budget of what wasn’t done last year. We’ve got a development crisis. Roll-overs are just a category of poor delivery,” he said.

DA councillor Siphumle Yalezo said the money was not unspent, it was “delayed” spend. In Transport for Cape Town, for example, R6.7m was not spent in the previous financial year because of poor contractor performance and industrial action.

The adjusted budget for 2014/2015 meant that R60m could be allocated for Transport for Cape Town, of which R20m would be spent on improving roads in Gugulethu, said Yalezo.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said the city was doing its best to improve its capital spend. “We will continue to seek ways to perform even better. But it’s not an admission of failure,” she said.

Meanwhile, the ACDP said it was concerned that R181m of the capital budget would be used for a new head office for the city’s department of water and sanitation.

The party’s Grant Haskin said it had tabled a motion when the draft budget was debated to redirect R20m to the upgrading of city clinics, R23m for additional fire vehicles, R20m for early childhood development centres, R60m for the upgrading of sanitation in informal settlements and R20m for housing projects and upgrades.

But this had been rejected by the DA, Haskin said. “It is clear that the DA is prioritising luxury for the service providers over basic service provision to the most needy,” he said.

The ACDP sought approval for the cancellation of the R181m for new premises so that the money could rather be spent on identified projects, including the upgrade of the City Hall, the Good Hope Centre and Hartleyvale Stadium. This was rejected on Wednesday by a full council vote.

But De Lille said the adjustments would not affect service.

The city’s electricity backlog was expected to be reduced from the 36 316 demand for legal connections in informal settlements in 2014/2015 to 33 316 in 2016/2017. The total households receiving free basic services would increase by 3 percent over the next two financial years. There were no backlogs in refuse removal.

“At least in Cape Town, it’s a roll-over. In other metros, it would be stolen money,” she said.

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Cape Argus