Bitou Municipality continues to mislead public on Human Settlements matters
I am perturbed by the Bitou Municipality’s persistence to mislead and quite frankly lie to its residents.
Relating to the municipal area’s Qolweni Housing Project, the Bitou Municipality issued a statement on 10 October 2020, which states: “The tender process was completed but the preferred company could not be confirmed until the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements approved an additional amount on the budget allocated.”
This comes after the municipality also issued a statement on 23 September 2020, stating “the tender process to appoint the contractor is at its final stages. It is only for the Western Cape Provincial Department of Human Settlements to give the go ahead in terms of the budget.”
The facts in this matter are that the Bitou Municipality is responsible for the implementation of this project. On 18 September 2020 my department received e-mail correspondence from the municipality where advice was sought. An internal departmental meeting was convened and on 23 September 2020, after due consideration, my department replied via e-mail to the municipality to confirm the budget for the project in line with the evaluation report that was submitted.
We have continuously reiterated our commitment to fund this project, which still stands and in line with the evaluation report submitted by the Municipality. This is more truer now, particularly since during our visit to the Garden Route District in June this year, where we engaged all Municipalities in the area, we made it clear that since the beginning of 2020, we’ve had a budget cut of over R 300 million.
This means we’re in no position to waste any time or funds on projects, especially ones such as this that should already be up and running. Instead, all stakeholders, including Municipalities should do everything in their power to accelerate the process and not be a hindrance, as this only leads to further delays in providing improved living conditions to our vulnerable beneficiaries who require it most. This Municipality is fully aware that no additional funds are available, and they had to ensure their tender processes do not lose sight of this.
I’d like to call on the community to not embark on a process of destroying public infrastructure, as this will only negatively impact service delivery and economic activity in the area.
Now that the facts have been tabled, I trust that there will be no further attempts to derail this process, as we’ve had unnecessary delays in the implementation of this project.
The human settlements portfolio is a concurrent function, and it is vital that prolific intergovernmental relations between province and local authorities exist, so that our people can optimally benefit. Seeking to deflect, as is the case here works against this principle.
As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society.