Executive Mayor for the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)
Johannesburg - The City of Joburg mayor, Herman Mashaba has reacted angrily to a statement made on Monday by Neville Chainee, the Human Settlements Department’s deputy director general, who claimed that national government was paying the city R1.7 billion annually for water and sanitation in Alexandra.

Chainee made the statement in response to the recent protests in Alexandra over, amongst others, basic services and the subsequent South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearings on conditions in the area.

Mashaba said that through his actions, Chainee has sought to represent the City of Joburg in the “worst possible light, through his misleading statements.”

The R1.7bn grant is the only kind of grant figure contained in the city’s balance sheet which resembles this allocation is Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG).  

“The usage of the USDG allocations to municipalities is regulated for infrastructure projects relating to urban settlement. While this does include water and sanitation, it is not specifically aimed at addressing issues of water and sanitation, as stated by Chainee. Its intended usage also includes electricity and roads, to cite two very significant examples,” said the mayor, adding that Chainee’s response is also highly problematic in the impression it gives that these funds are somehow exclusively available to Alexandra, whereas they are required across the city. 

“Indeed, in the face of our inherited R170 billion infrastructure backlog, grant funding provided to the city is woefully inadequate for meeting our needs.

Mashaba said he had written to minister Lindiwe Sisulu seeking clarity on:  

• Whether USDG funding is “specifically aimed at addressing issues of water and sanitation” or whether this is a gross simplification of its usage, excluding electricity and roads by way examples;

• Whether USDG funding is provided exclusively for any one specific settlement;  

• Whether the minister would give her opinion as to whether the USDG allocations to the city could have, realistically, resolved the entire infrastructure backlogs to date, including those of sanitation in Alexandra; and  

•  Whether she would address the misleading statements made by Chainee to determine whether he is unaware of the stipulations around USDG or whether his statements were intended to mislead?  

“I was under the impression that officials in national government were not meant to partake in petty political point-scoring, but rather carrying out their duties in a manner which is consistent with the intergovernmental relations framework, enshrined in the Constitution.  

“I have therefore requested the city manager, Ndivho Lukhwareni, to write to the SAHRC, to summon Chainee to explain his misleading statement around this important issue,” he added.

Chainee announced that the City of Joburg was given about, what, R1.7bn every year “which is specifically aimed at addressing issues of water and sanitation.” 

Mashaba said he has initiated a forensic investigation into the Alexandra Renewal Project, so that those responsible for looting the State’s resources and denying residents of years of service delivery can be held to account, he concluded. 

@annacox

The Star