DA MP irks Dlamini-Zuma with claim she's focused only on 'zol and alcohol'
Co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did not take kindly to accusations by a DA MP that her focus in the fight against Covid-19 has been on “zol and alcohol”.
“Honourable Hoosen, I used to have great respect for you as an honourable member, but today I've lost that respect,” she said on Wednesday addressing the criticism.
While she initially did not want “to dignify” the criticism with a response, she reiterated that the government was trying to balance saving lives and livelihoods.
“We care about our people's lives, equally we care about their livelihoods. We care about ensuring that hospitals remain open and beds remain available,” she said before her speaking time in the parliamentary debate on her department's budget ended.
DA MP Haniff Hoosen had accused Dlamini-Zuma of ignoring Covid-19 related corruption and only focusing her energy on the ban of the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.
He said the debate on the adjusted budget of the department presented an opportunity to reflect on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected people and also reflect on how the nation's leaders had responded to the pandemic.
“Given that minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the political head ultimately responsible for the management of the Covid-19 pandemic through the Disaster Management Act, it is the appropriate time and opportunity to reflect on and analyse the work of her department, on this occasion,” he said.
“Our minister Dlamini-Zuma has been fighting against zol and alcohol, and while she was focusing on zol and alcohol, here is a brief snapshot of what is really going on in our country.” He then made the following claims:
- after more than 100 days of lockdown, thousands of poor residents still don’t have access to water to wash their hands;
- dozens of schools still don’t have decent toilets for children;
- “crooked” politicians and officials are colluding with businesses for their personal benefit;
- quarantine facilities in the Eastern Cape, owned by the family of the MEC for transport, were contracted to the department so that they can benefit from the crisis;
- the speaker in the OR Tambo District Municipality received invoices amounting to R4.8m from a questionable training company, to teach a few thousand people about the virus, when this information is being provided free of charge on TV, radio and social media, and when the municipal manager refused to pay, he was suspended;
- the KwaZulu-Natal department of social development has spent almost R22m on blankets, each blanket cost them R460;
- the Naledi Local Municipality in the North West paid R1,265 for a dust mask which usually costs less than R20; and
- thermometers that are usually about R200 were sold to the department of education in KwaZulu-Natal for R2,500 each.
“They couldn’t be used because they had no batteries. And where was minister Dlamini-Zuma? Zol and alcohol,” said Hoosen.
He said these were some of the examples of corruption during the Covid-19 lockdown, while the minister was preoccupied with “zol and alcohol”.
“It is why, chairperson, we are calling on the minister Dlamini-Zuma to refocus her efforts and take immediate steps to stem the flow of corrupt activities in municipalities before there is nothing left to steal,” he said.
“The minister and her department must focus their energies in fighting Covid-19, and not the citizens of our country.”
In her speech, Dlamini-Zuma said the government's response to Covid-19 had to factor in the glaring realities of SA's inequalities.
“This budget vote is part of a society wide response by which we hope to contribute to equality and the creation of jobs through a responsive, developmental and empowering state,” she said.
“Such a state actively contributes towards resilient, vibrant, sustainable and climate smart communities. As we have said in this house before, there is a growing social distance between us as leaders and the masses we serve.
“We need not fear the pandemic, because it also offers us an opportunity to reset our outlook. Through our responses we can claw back the possibility of a more equal, sustainable and just society, where leaders are active facilitators in development.”
Dlamini-Zuma said Covid-19 has not spared municipalities and has affected the revenue collection potential of all municipalities.
“For instance, there has been an under collection of R3.1bn over the past three months in eThekwini, Ekurhuleni and the City of Cape Town.”
To ease the burden on municipalities, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an allocation of R20bn, of which R11bn is under the equitable share and R9bn is repurposed infrastructure conditional grants.
Dlamini-Zuma said a further R554m has been allocated to the department of co-operative governance as part of the government-wide R19.6bn for the presidential economic stimulus and job creation programme.
“We will use these resources to create 25,000 jobs through building and maintaining infrastructure using labour intensive methods,” she said.