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KZN health halts maintenance work to pay for R200m flood repairs as it waits for 'national funding'

10 May 2022 - 15:47
KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane says money will have to be reprioritised from her budget to fix flood-damaged infrastructure. File photo.
KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Nomagugu Simelane says money will have to be reprioritised from her budget to fix flood-damaged infrastructure. File photo.
Image: Supplied

The KwaZulu-Natal health department has been forced to put planned maintenance and some projects on hold to channel money from its budget to repair infrastructure damaged by the recent floods.

Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said more than R200m will be required for repairs when she presented the department’s 2022/2023 budget to the provincial legislature on Tuesday.

“As a response to the floods, and damage caused to our facilities, we’ve had to reprioritise certain projects, as instructed by Treasury,” she said.

“We took a decision that planned maintenance and capital projects that have not reached tender stage this financial year will have to be halted. The funds originally allocated will be reprioritised and directed towards repairing damaged infrastructure. This is due to the fact that National Treasury has not allocated funding for the repairs at this stage.”

Simelane said on-site assessments of flood damage had been completed, and preparations to appoint service providers had started. “The anticipated cost of repairs is above R200m.”

She said the provincial health budget had been trimmed for the current financial year. “In 2019/2020, our budget was R45.2bn. In 2020/2021 it went up to R49.3bn, followed by R50.6bn in 2021/2022. But for financial year 2022/23 it is down to R49.6bn.”

“Things are tough, but we soldier on. These cuts continue to have dire consequences for the implementation of our programmes and day–to-day running of the department.”

Francois Rodgers, leader of the DA in the province, said recently: “Despite an assurance from national government that it would contribute R1bn from its contingency reserve in National Disaster Relief Fund to flood-ravaged KwaZulu-Natal, the province will not receive any money and will instead have to reprioritise its already tight budget to cover the amount.”

Rodgers said the revelation was made by the province’s finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube at the treasury budget debate last week after he posed a question about how national relief funds would be spent by provincial departments.

“The MEC’s response was ‘there is no R1bn’ coming from national government. The MEC further confirmed the provincial government will have to reprioritise its budget to find the R1bn over the next three years to deal with this,” Rodgers said.

“I later engaged with the MEC regarding her comment during the debate and she confirmed her statement that no money was coming from national government.”

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