ANC blames DA for piling cash for elections
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Western Cape finance MEC Ivan Meyer has the cash to save the provincial parliament from collapse but plans to disburse these funds towards next year’s DA municipal election campaign, the ANC alleged this week.
Pierre Uys, chief whip of the ANC in the Western Cape provincial parliament, said Meyer had last week allocated only R300,000 to the local legislature which needs R34-million to address staff and operational challenges.
Meyer in his medium-term provincial budget allocations last week outlined how millions would be shifted within the Western Cape government before the end of the current financial year ends.
Uys pointed to Meyer’s medium-term budget, showing that he had concluded the provincial Treasury had a surplus of R217-million.
Uys also pointed out that the national Treasury recently allocated an additional R337-million to beef up the provincial Treasury’s coffers towards paying government salaries.
“How can you declare a surplus in November if you are not through a financial year? They need to render the service that is needed until the end of this financial year,” said Uys.
“The allocation of R337-million from national government to the provincial Treasury was for wages. They did not use all of it. They only used R214-million. There was a saving of R123-million.
“Then they tell me they don’t have money to help the provincial legislature. There’s sufficient money available at the provincial Treasury.”
Uys charged that Meyer, among the DA’s top leadership in the Western Cape, was “holding back” on the cash for political motives.
“The DA is building a fund for the local government (municipal) elections (in 2016). They will then start dishing out the money,” said Uys.
“They will have shows and go to communities and people will say the DA is giving them money.”
Meyer dismissed these allegations: “Unlike the ANC, the Western Cape government does not allocate resources for political reasons.”
He explained the R217-million surplus was declared to “respond to the constrained fiscal outlook”. It would be saved for shortfalls and expenses in the 2016/17 financial year, said Meyer.
Meyer said R123-million of the R337-million from the national Treasury was also to be used “in the next financial year (2016/17) due to further funding shortages”.
Uys charged: “The surplus is totally wrong. It is out of order. It was to be allocated where needed.
“We need more staff in the provincial legislature. We received a report about challenges. There were nervous breakdowns and absenteeism of staff.
“One of the needs was to appoint more staff. How can they say there’s no money in this financial year to address that?”
In August, the provincial parliament’s speaker Sharna Fernandez told Weekend Argus they urgently needed R34-million to solve a staff shortage crisis and fix operational matters.
This included easing pressures on overburdened staff, a shortage of security cameras and outdated technology.
Fernandez said at the time she had appealed for help from Meyer, who then said his department would assist.
Meyer’s R300,000 allocation to the provincial parliament last week was for an accounting-related systems upgrade, to be outsourced to a service provider.
“I am aware of the budgetary pressures facing the Western Cape parliament and these will be considered during the process of finalising funding allocations for the 2016/17 financial year,” said Meyer.
James Retief, spokesman for the provincial parliament, said they were in contact with the provincial Treasury regarding its future budget allocations, with the possibility of securing extra funds.
“Members and staff are only too aware of the dire financial constraints faced by the country and the province,” said Retief.
“This remains a challenge and we are working tirelessly to find solutions and to maximise existing resources.”