by Melinda Hattingh – DA Spokesperson of Roads and Public Works
Date: 13 October 2017
Type: Press Statement
The DA is calling for an urgent resolution on the matter regarding outstanding rates and taxes owed to Sol Plaatje Municipality by the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works, as this can potentially jeopardise the handover of the soon to be completed Kimberly mental hospital to the Health Department.
Roads and Public Works currently owes Sol Plaatje approximately R400 million for rates and taxes. The lion’s share of this amount is due to the astronomical bill racked up by the new mental hospital, which has been under construction for over a decade.
While the bill for the new mental hospital is in the region of R100 million, the Roads and Public Works Department allocates just over R50 million per annum to settle its municipal debts. This will do little to make a dent in old accumulated debt. It could also result in Sol Plaatje choosing to withhold the clearance certificate from the Health Department, preventing them from taking possession of the building.
According to Roads and Public Works, Sol Plaatje has billed them as a business and not as a service institution. They lodged a dispute with the municipality in this regard. To date they are still no closer to clearing their debt.
The DA is aware that the matter of outstanding rates and taxes owed to municipalities by the Roads and Public Works Department has been addressed on a number of provincial and national platforms for years already but, to date, there has been no attempt to decisively deal with this growing problem.
And now, the problem is threatening to derail the implementation of much needed services to the detriment of those suffering from mental health afflictions.
The DA is of the firm view that this matter can no longer be left to fester.
The DA welcomes the fact that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), which discussed this matter during this week’s oversight visit to the Kimberley area, committed to bringing the necessary departments together to resolve this issue.
I will closely monitor this process and if I am not satisfied with progress made, I will not hesitate to write to the portfolio committee chairperson of Roads and Public Works, requesting that an urgent meeting be convened at the legislature with all involved parties including the departments of COGHSTA and Health, as well as Sol Plaatje Municipality and Provincial Treasury.
The people of the Northern Cape have waited long enough for a dedicated mental health facility in the province. At the very least, they deserve a concerted effort from government to ensure that no more undue delays will hinder the eventual operationalisation of this long awaited facility.
DA Spokesperson of Roads and Public Works
082 494 6648
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387