Letter to the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Rev MA Stofile, re Financial strangulation of some regions in Transkei by 
Bantu Holomisa, MP - UDM President (24 January 2002)

Rev MA Stofile
Eastern Cape Premier
Private Bag X0047
BISHO
5605

Dear Sir

FINANCIAL STRANGULATION OF SOME REGIONS IN TRANSKEI

I draw your attention to matters of serious concern in the Transkei where there is mounting evidence of financial strangulation and withholding of development from handpicked regions in Transkei. These are King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipality and portions of areas under the OR Tambo, Mbhashe, Mnquma and Mhlontlo District Councils.

I have raised this matter with your MEC for Housing, Local Government, Traditional Affairs, Mr G Nkwinti, and he flatly denied that he is pursuing discriminatory policies in the Transkei region.

In the light of an abundance of evidence of gross discrimination against certain regions and selective allocation of funds and development of agricultural and animal husbandry projects to favoured regions, I now appeal to you to conduct an in-depth investigation to satisfy yourself or otherwise of these reports.

I recently undertook a tour of Transkei and made the following observations:

1. R1,6 MILLION FOR WATERBORNE SEWERAGE AT NGANGELIZWE TOWNSHIP

There is an ongoing water reticulation sewerage system for Ngangelizwe Township which had a shortfall of R1,6 million. This amount was requested from central government in Pretoria and was subsequently transferred to Bisho early in 2001. To the chagrin of the KSD municipality in charge of the project the said amount had not been remitted to them until December 2001 after much altercation and abortive underhand attempts by the MEC G Nkwinti to undermine the KSD municipality.

Mr Nkwinti has admitted at a recent Unitra Community Radio talk-show on 22 January 2002, which I shared with him, that they received the R1,6 million around March/April 2001 but did not remit it to KSD municipality. He also admitted that he is still withholding the interest on the amount.

Notwithstanding that this project resumed after much pressure from us, the delay had incurred inescapable cost escalation as a result of which the budgeted amount of R1,6 million will fall short of current costs. You will have to ensure that the accumulated interest withheld by Mr Nkwinti is released to make good that shortfall.

2. R34 MILLION FOR UP-GRADING INFRASTRUCTURE IN KSD MUNICIPALITY

At the same radio interview I drew the attention of Mr Nkwinti to the ± R75 million which was provisionally budgeted for the OR Tambo District Council, R34 million of which was earmarked for KSD municipality. Mr Nkwinti publicly admitted that the
R34 million for the KSD municipality is available, but that he is withholding it because he is not satisfied with the business plans for the utilisation of the amount.

However, my follow-up investigations revealed that competent consultants who are utilised by your Bisho government drafted business plans. These plans are complete and have addressed all the queries. Despite all this, Mr Nkwinti had continued to baulk and has only recently this year released R12,3 million for only four projects. The KSD municipality has only been informed of the partial allocation in January 2002, two months before the end of the financial year.

When these monies were applied for, the relevant structures had conducted a thorough study of the needs, which was endorsed by Bisho and forwarded to central government that approved the requisition and transferred the money to Bisho, as confirmed by Mr Nkwinti that he has the money. His continuous feeble excuses for withholding the money do not hold water.

In the light of the confirmed transfer by central government of all these amounts to Bisho, and Mr Nkwinti’s admission that he is withholding it; can you explain what these amounts plus interest are being used for? Must we take a guess that it has been re-routed for other purposes? Or is this a political ruse to discredit administrations that are not under ANC control?

For your information see the breakdown of the R34 million budget that was approved for the 2001/2002 financial year, attached hereto. You will realise the extent of cost escalation especially so with the downslide of the rand against other major currencies.

At the end of the financial year, the unspent amount will reflect in your budget as unused, with the implication that it is not needed. Are you therefore going to return it to National Treasury as a saving as you did with the R32 million for HIV/Aids? The observant public is questioning the morality of government conduct, which withholds financial help that means the difference between life and death for the poor on the ground.

Just before you return the unused money to National Treasury, I suggest that you and your MECs take a tour, using your personal cars, to inspect the roads to the following areas: Port St. Johns, Ngqeleni, Libode, Tsolo, Qumbu, Ngcobo, Elliotdale, Idutywa, Willowvale, Mqanduli, Mount Fletcher, Maluti and Umtata, to mention but a few.

3. MERGER BETWEEN OLD KEI AND -WILD COAST DISTRICT COUNCILS

My investigation during my tour has revealed that your MEC pursues a policy of divide-and-rule, favouring some areas at the expense of others. The favoured son is the old Wild Coast District Council, which has the lion’s share of farming and agricultural projects and good roads, while the disfavoured stepson is the old Kei District Council in which these projects are conspicuous by their absence. These are the areas: Umtata, Engcobo, Libode, Ngqeleni, Port St Johns, Qumbu, Tsolo, Mqanduli and Elliotdale. There is a glaring disparity in the treatment of these merged components, despite the fact that the same consultants drafted the evaluation and the business plan. How do you explain the fact that projects are approved for the old Wild Coast and there is dragging of feet in approving projects for the old Kei District Council?

If you deny the scenario we present to you, I recommend that you summon a meeting of all stakeholders e.g. the chiefs, taxi associations, bus operators, NGOs, religious leaders, the business community etc. to conduct an in-loco inspection of the whole of the OR Tambo District Council area of jurisdiction.

It should never escape the minds of public officials that the moneys budgeted for the improvement of the quality of lives of the citizens, come from the taxpayer. Therefore, public officials must under no circumstance abuse these moneys to pursue sectarian political agendas and nurture political patronage at the expense of the very taxpayers from whom the revenue is sourced.

While you are pondering over the issues raised above, the UDM and its structures will undertake a tour amongst the affected villages and explain what is going on. We will only halt this campaign when we see evidence that the budgeted projects take effect. These are: roads, water, electricity, community halls, agriculture and animal husbandry etc. as outlined in the budget.

I trust that you will treat these issues with the urgency they deserve. In the meantime I have copied this letter to the listed recipients.

Yours sincerely

Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

Cc - The Minister of Finance – Mr Trevor Manuel
The Chairperson SA Human Rights Commission – Ms Shirley Mabusela
King BZ Dalindyebo
King C Ndamase
MEC G Nkwinti
All chiefs
All UDM Municipal Councillors
UDM Members of Parliament
UDM Members of Provincial Legislatures
All taxi associations
All bus operators
Different religious groupings
Business
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