GOVT WARNED AGAINST RELYING ON DONORS
GOVERNMENT is relying on donor funding to deal with humanitarian disasters, the Local Government Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has been told.
The Ministry of Local Government acting permanent secretary Ethel Mlalazi recently disclosed to Parliament that of the $1,5 million that Treasury had promised to release to address natural disasters, only $700 000 was disbursed last month. Mlalazi appealed to the Irene Zindi-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government to lobby and make a lot of noise in Parliament to ensure that adequate money is released for disaster mitigation.
“When MPs debate the budget, we need them to make noise because the money is not only for natural disasters, but it also assists in road traffic accidents,” Mlalazi said during the meeting to discuss the 2018 budget. “We have been relying on humanitarian assistance and it affects operations, and the department would have been heavily affected if we had not received $2,1 million from Algeria, China and India.”
She also told MPs of plans to pull down old residential neighbourhoods and replace them with new flats. “In Harare the first is going to be Highfields messengers’ camps where we have identified a tender and you will soon see works coming up,” Mlalazi said.
“We have identified in every province all old messengers’ camps, and we have plans to put up a number of flats and have also identified people in the civil service who need flats as opposed to stands. The National Housing Fund is going to put up a lot of flats in areas where there are a lot of old buildings and people are living in squalor.”
MPs from the committee then grilled principal director for urban and local authorities, Erica Jones over the issue of many unfinished projects and buildings by the Local Government ministry. Glen Norah MP Webster Maondera questioned why the Local Government ministry was giving out loans to local authorities, which were not repaying them, adding some of their projects were white elephants that stayed incomplete for years.
The ministry has accumulated in excess of 500 incomplete projects throughout the country and last year they completed 26 projects only, while this year they envisage completing 20. Jones said the problem was that the money allocated to the ministry for projects was inadequate to complete the projects, some of them being waterworks.
“I would feel as a public servant that I did not do service to the community if I send back the little bit of money I get from Treasury. It is better to start off a project than to do nothing because eventually the project will be completed,” Jones said.