DA Gauteng concerned over underspending at social development dept

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng raised its concerns following a report that revealed that the provincial department of social development was underspending on its allocated budget.

DA MPL Refilwe Nt'sekhe said in a statement: "This has a negative impact on its obligation to provide social welfare services during this Covid-19 pandemic."

Nt'sekhe said according to the department's fourth-quarter report for the 2019/20 financial year, it underspent by R400.8 million.

She said it was also worrying that the department also underspent by R552.8 million in the third quarter for the 2019/20 financial year.

"For the past three financial years, this department has underspent, which is R419.1 million in 2018/19, R104.4 million in 2017/18 and R19.7 million in 2016/17.

"During these time periods, the department has been under the leadership of three different MECs and with each MEC this department has continued to underspend. This department which is supposed to be playing an integral role during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic is inefficient and constantly underspends on its budget," she said.

The MPL further said the department had also failed to provide reasons for its under expenditure which clearly indicated that the department was incompetent.

"This consistent under expenditure by the department has had a huge impact on the department failing to meet its targets.

"Some of the families across the province did not receive crisis intervention services, did not benefit from poverty reduction initiatives, and were not issued food relief through food banks.

"This means that our people continue to live in poverty and suffer from starvation because the department is failing to spend on its allocated budget. This department can no longer be trusted with a responsibility to provide social and welfare services to the vulnerable people of this province," she added.

Nt'sekhe said the DA would table questions to the acting MEC of the department, Panyaza Lesufi, to ascertain what measures the department was putting in place to ensure that it spends its allocated budget.

She continued to say that Gauteng Premier David Makhura should answer to people in the province on how the department had underspent for the past three financial years, under his watch.

"There has no consequences for this failure to spend money or serve the vulnerable people of Gauteng. To date, he has also failed to appoint an MEC for this department. Currently, the department has an acting MEC who is serving two big departments, which education and social development.

"Social development requirements undivided attention and cannot continue to be served by an acting MEC. This department needs committed political leadership who will give and drive political leadership," said Nt'sekhe.

"Covid-19 has shown further cracks that the people of Gauteng are served by an incapable state. Premier Makhura must now take responsibility for this department's failures," she added.

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