Beaufort West Municipality must return funds spent irregularly
The Western Cape Department of Human Settlement has sent a second letter of demand for the immediate return of R 1 915 000.00, it provided to the Beaufort West Municipality (BWM) between 2017 and 2018, so that external toilets could be upgraded in the area.
The second letter, sent on 23 June 2020, follows the initial correspondence, dated 27 February 2020. The demand is based on the BWM’s failure to adhere the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the municipality and the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, where the BWM had to “enter into an agreement with a service provider for the upgrading of external toilets.” Instead, the BWM sourced the local community with the intention of building the toilets. Not only did the BWM deviate from the MOA, there were also no toilets built.
The deviation led to the failure of the project as R 1 500 252.19 or 78% of the entire allocation was spent on salaries and wages, R 205 672.60 was the cost of material supplies with a further R 43 027.21 also committed to material and supplies. The total expenditure on 30 June 2018 was R 1 748 952.50, which means there was a balance of R 166 047.50.
Minister Simmers said: “Although it is commendable that local labour was incorporated, it is regrettable that the municipality failed to adhere to the MOA. Due to their negligence and disregard for MOA, the people of Beaufort West are still waiting for their toilets to be upgraded. There is also nothing to show for the amount of money that’s been spent. The expenditure sounds more like the municipality playing the role of an ATM and handing out money. It is unacceptable that the BWM chose to in this irregular manner spend tax-payers money.
We will do whatever is required to ensure we recoup these funds from the municipality, as they clearly do not have the best interest of their own residents at heart. There was an opportunity to improve the lives of residents, while also restoring their dignity, yet the BWM failed to do so.
Improved toilet facilities would strengthen the area’s resolve against COVID-19, as this area would ensure greater access to improved water and sanitation, which we know is a key factor in combatting the virus.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient, safe and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.”