Mayor Herman Mashaba is unhappy with the human settlements department’s televised claim that the city was getting R1.7 billion a year to make provision for tap water and toilets in the densely populated Alexandra township.
Early on Tuesday morning, Mashaba said he had already written a letter to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to demand an explanation of recent comments made by an official in her department regarding sanitation in the troubled township.
“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.”
Mashaba quoted Chainee as saying: “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.”
The mayor said the comment was made on television in response to the graphic depiction of the appalling sanitation conditions in Alexandra.
He said while the amount stated did include water and sanitation, it was 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,” explained Mashaba.
“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.”
Mashaba said he was now seeking clarity from Minister Sisulu on whether Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) funding was “specifically aimed at addressing issues of water and sanitation” or whether this was a gross simplification of its usage, excluding electricity and roads by way of examples.
He also wants to know if USDG funding was provided exclusively for any one specific settlement; and whether the minister would care to venture her opinion as to whether the USDG allocations to the city of Johannesburg could have, realistically, resolved the city’s entire infrastructure backlogs to date, including those of sanitation in Alexandra.
The mayor said he was making moves to compel Chainee to appear before the SA Human Rights Commission, which was probing anomalies in Alexandra.
The department has not yet commented on Mashaba’s letter to the minister.