The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has raised concerns over the significant underspending of the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta)’s budget by more than R21 million during the 2022/23 financial year. This issue came to light in the department’s annual report for the mentioned fiscal year, prompting questions about the impact of these unutilized funds on the residents who continue to suffer due to a lack of access to basic services.
The DA contends that the substantial amount of money that went unspent could have been allocated to provide essential support to municipalities grappling with financial challenges. Instead, these funds were relinquished to the provincial revenue fund, raising questions about the department’s financial management and allocation practices. Furthermore, the party has pointed out that the department failed to meet several critical targets set for the year, highlighting a range of issues affecting its performance and effectiveness.
One of the notable areas where the department fell short was in the finalization of the Gauteng Spatial Development Framework, a crucial planning document that plays a vital role in shaping the province’s urban and rural development. This delay raises concerns about the department’s ability to effectively plan for the future and promote sustainable growth in the region.
Additionally, the DA noted that only 6 out of 9 local municipalities received ongoing support with technical skills and capacity in engineering and town planning. This limitation underscores the department’s challenges in providing the necessary expertise and guidance to municipalities struggling with service delivery and infrastructure development. It raises questions about whether the department is adequately equipped to support local governments in addressing their unique challenges.
In response to these concerns, the DA has called for the department to implement a comprehensive turnaround strategy. Such a strategy should not only ensure the efficient utilization of the allocated budget but also prioritize the needs of Gauteng residents who are currently without access to basic services. By doing so, the department can align its actions with its mandate, which encompasses the responsibility to enhance the quality of life for all citizens in the province.
The underspending of the budget by the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is a matter of concern, particularly in light of the ongoing challenges faced by residents who lack access to essential services. The surrendering of unutilized funds to the provincial revenue fund raises questions about the department’s financial management practices, while its failure to meet key targets highlights broader performance issues. To address these challenges, it is imperative that the department develops and implements a turnaround strategy that prioritizes the needs of Gauteng’s residents and ensures the efficient allocation of resources to support struggling municipalities. Only through such proactive measures can the department fulfill its mandate and improve the lives of those it serves.