Cape Town – A war of words has erupted between President Cyril Ramaphosa and the DA after he lambasted the party for the province’s housing crisis.
“The DA got money from the national government and they couldn’t spend that money for houses. They have returned it to Pretoria. Now that is the worst thing any government can do.
“The DA is completely responsible for the unavailability of houses. I got very angry when I heard that they have returned R1.7 billion which was meant for houses for you here and they have returned it to National Treasury because they say they can’t spend it, so people should have had houses here. Many, many, many houses,” Ramaphosa told residents in Delft over the weekend.
Ramaphosa was on the ANC election campaign trail visiting various parts of the Western Cape. “For me that is a great tragedy, that structures of government, be it national, provincial or local, should return money to Treasury having not spent the money and not come up with projects.
“Spending money on housing is about development, its about giving our people dignity and giving them a better life,” Ramaphosa said.
DA provincial leader and Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela accused Ramaphosa of lying.
“This is a blatant lie and the crassest form of dishonest electioneering.
“It is sad and concerning that a man with such a calibre can lie,” he said.
Madikizela said that the province did not send any money back to the national Treasury.
“We did not send back a single cent to national government. He is blatantly lying to the residents and this has massive implications for him because it questions his credibility,” he said.
Madikizela is expected to deliver his budget vote speech for the Department of Human Settlements on Tuesday, in which he is expected to highlight the budget priorities and allocation of funds for the coming financial year of 2019/20.
“I have to account for that and I will be setting the record straight on this matter – this entire thing angers me,” he said.
“The truth is that the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements is the leading department in housing delivery in the country – as indicated in the presidency report which clearly shows that the Western Cape is outperforming almost all the other provinces in the outcomes of eight indicators.”
A graph accompanying his statement showed that since 2009 the province received over R19 billion and has managed to spend 100% of its budget.
But the provincial ANC said it agrees with Ramaphosa.
“After interrogating the issue, we know of at least R1bn which was unspent, as well as a further R1.1bn which should have been used to provide water, sanitation, basic toilets and electricity to informal settlements. This failure has had a direct impact on people,” ANC provincial elections head Ebrahim Rasool said.
He said that if the president had erred, it was in underestimating the correct amount.
“We agree with the president that it is criminal for the DA government to have surrendered money to the Treasury because they did not have any plans or intentions to use it,” he said.