Parliament refuses to conduct oversight over R1 billion sent to KZN for housing 

Issued by Emma Louise Powell MP – DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements
22 Apr 2022 in News

As with the multi-billion-rand Covid-19 relief package, Parliament has yet again refused calls by the DA to conduct oversight of disaster relief funding allocated to the KwaZulu-Natal flood disaster.

Whilst many other Parliamentary Committees are in session, or on the ground in KwaZulu-Natal, the Portfolio Committee for Human Settlements is yet again missing in action. This is despite the 8000 homes that were damaged, and the 4000 homes that were destroyed in the past week.

On 14 April 2022, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Human Settlements wrote to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Hon. Rosina Semenya requesting that the Committee urgently convene to receive a briefing on budget re-appropriations and disaster relief plans currently being put in place by the National Department of Human Settlements.

The Chairperson, Hon. Semenya has now responded to the DA, refusing to convene such a meeting of the Committee, noting that this will only happen once work by the Ministry is concluded in the Province. This, despite a public announcement by the National Minister of Human Settlements, Hon. Mmamoloko Kubayi, that more than R1 billion will be re-appropriated from the Department of Human Settlements and its Entities for immediate relief efforts.

The ANC, it seems, would sooner give budget re-appropriation information to the media than to those charged with holding their kleptocratic government accountable in Parliament.

As the members of the Portfolio Committee, we have a constitutional obligation to hold the Executive and government Departments to account. This is especially critical in light of the lessons Parliament has already learnt in not having conducted proper oversight of the R500 billion Covid-19 relief package that was subsequently subject to wide scale looting, fraud and mismanagement.

By refusing to convene a briefing or oversight hearing, the Chairperson – as with the Covid pandemic – is yet again preventing Members of Parliament from exercising their critical role in ensuring fiscal accountability and good governance. Had this same Chairperson acceded to the DA’s requests for similar oversight in the early stages of the lockdown, we would have likely been able to avoid the hundreds of millions of Rands that were subsequently stolen and lost to fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Had Parliamentarians been allowed proper oversight, issues such as the Talana tin-shack scandal, and the Auditor General’s scathing findings on the failures of the Human Settlements Command Council could have been averted.

In following the same playbook, it will be little wonder if a similar fate befalls the latest R1 billion appropriation from this crucial front line Department.

The DA will now write to the Chair of Chairs, requesting that the Committee Chairperson be immediately ordered to convene an oversight briefing, failing which, the DA will consider our legal options.