Not true that Tshwane will forfeit R2.6bn from Treasury — mayor Brink

14 February 2024 - 13:16
By Sisanda Mbolekwa
Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink. Photo: Antonio Muchave
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink. Photo: Antonio Muchave

Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink dismissed claims that R2.6bn in grants have been withdrawn from the city by national government, saying no such thing has happened.

The claims surfaced on X by an official in Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi's office, Kgosi Maepa, the former ANC caucus leader in Tshwane. The remarks were later echoed by the premier in a TV interview.

“No such thing has happened, though the city is being asked to account for a much smaller unspent portion of our capital grants,” said Brink.

He criticised Maepa for “often making outright false statements on social media, usually under the description of ‘breaking news’ — someone who excels in playing the fool and is usually treated accordingly. But yesterday [Tuesday] a political reporter of the SABC reposted Maepa's allegation as his own (though he adjusted the amount slightly downward)”.

The mayor said the leaked National Treasury letter was misinterpreted as it does not say the city would forfeit more than R2.6bn.

Instead, it calls on the city to account for the unspent portion of the grants and explain why some of the money (about R635m) should not revert to the national fiscus.

“We take this risk seriously. We know national government is, as the city, in serious financial trouble and looking to claw back money from municipalities before the finance minister’s budget speech. We will give a full account of our situation to National Treasury and outline plans to spend our full capital allocation.”

Brink said the response to Treasury is expected by the end of the week.

“We know spending our full capital budget is essential to improving service infrastructure, especially [for] the poor. We are equally adamant that this spending must procure value for people's money and not incur irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“Some of the delays in our capital projects have been caused by last year’s unlawful strike.

“Other delays are the result of tighter controls, a necessary response to the auditor-general. These controls are aimed at avoiding the waste of public money, including the payment of invoices not justified by the work done.”

Brink said fixing a broken system often causes delays, but that does not translate to infrastructure projects not being concluded.

“The irony is Lesufi had a hand in breaking the system we are now fixing. Much of the damage inflicted on Tshwane happened on the watch of the Gauteng government. Lesufi was part of the provincial executive that in 2020 dissolved the city council for ulterior political purposes and then presided over a R4.6bn budget deficit in the city.”

He accused Lesufi of trying to benefit from damage he inflicted as he is a candidate for re-election as premier.

“Regardless of Lesufi’s election jitters, the City of Tshwane, and our new top management team, are committed to spending our full capital budget and ensuring we get maximum value for people’s money.”