NEWS & ANALYSIS

Lindiwe Sisulu must clarify misrepresentation by senior dept official – Herman Mashaba

Mayor says Mr Chainee has sought to represent City in worst possible light through his misleading statements

Minister Sisulu must clarify misrepresentation by senior department official

11 June 2019

Yesterday, I wrote to the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to express deep concerns in respect of misrepresentations made by Mr Neville Chainee, the Department’s Deputy Director General, with regard to allocations made to the City for Alexandra.

Indeed, in a recent television broadcast, Mr Chainee states:

The City of Joburg, we give them about, what, R1.7 billion every year which is specifically aimed at addressing issues of water and sanitation.” 

This comment was made in response to the graphic depiction of the sanitation conditions in Alexandra.

It goes without saying that there are deep and historic service delivery challenges which have been experienced by the people of Alex.

That is why, I 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. 

This said, as I am sure the Minister is undoubtedly aware, the only kind of grant figure contained in the City’s balance sheet which resembles this allocation is our 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 the Mr Chainee. Its intended usage also includes electricity and roads, to cite two very significant examples.   

Mr Chainee’s response is also highly problematic in the impression it gives that these funds are somehow exclusively available to Alexandra, when they are required across the City of Johannesburg.

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

Arising from the above, I have sought clarity from the Minister 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 care to venture her opinion as to whether the USDG allocations to the City of Johannesburg could have, realistically, resolved our entire infrastructure backlogs to date, including those of sanitation in Alexandra; and  

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

Through his actions, Mr Chainee has sought to represent the City of Johannesburg in the worst possible light, through his misleading statements.

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, Dr Ndivho Lukhwareni, to write to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), to summon Mr Chainee to explain his misleading statement around this important issue.

I look forward to the Minister’s response to this matter.

Issued by Olebogeng Molatlhwa, Acting Spokesperson, Office of the Executive Mayor, 11 June 2019