Tshwane fights for emergency service, housing funds
The Democratic Alliance (DA)-led administration under Executive Mayor Solly Msimanga is set to approach the National Treasury to intervene since Gauteng authorities failed to pay the capital city its grant funding for emergency medical services and housing, as allocated. This posed a serious risk to the municipality’s ability to provide basic services to residents, Msimanga’s spokesperson, Samkelo Mgobozi, said on Wednesday, 16 January 2019. “This has implications for our residents. This move makes the ability to provide a fully responsive emergency medical and ambulance service in the city impossible as it is done through the emergency medical services grant. It forms part of an agency agreement with the province,” he said.
“The withdrawal of this grant funding means that residents will get a reduced emergency medical service from the city. It also adds to the tension over housing and services needed by the poorest of our residents.”
Mgobozi said the move came after the provincial government had already significantly slashed funding in these areas. “Specifically, the emergency management service grant was reduced from R102million to R41m. The human settlements development grant was reduced from R78m to R23m, despite the original 2018/19 provincially gazetted allocation.”
He said the City had lodged appeals with the province over the unilateral reduction of the grants. “After making enquiries with the Gauteng Health Department over the outstanding payment, which amounts to 60 percent of the total budget, we were told that due to ‘provincialisation’, Tshwane emergency services now had to submit a claim.
“This is a worrying development given that there is no signed provincialisation document between the City and the Department of Health, nor a signed withdrawal by either part from the agency agreement that is still in force. Furthermore, even before the province amended the allocations, it did not honour the payment of the emergency management service allocation that was due at the end of October 2018, in terms of commitments set out in the original Government Gazette. It is clear that promoting the health and wellness of residents is not a central priority for the Gauteng Department of Health,” Mgobozi said.
He added that the conduct of the Gauteng Health Department would hamper the City’s efforts to respond to communities’ health and emergency needs in the future. “That should not be allowed to happen,” he said. “Of equal concern is Gauteng’s reduction in the human settlements development grant. This robs society of decent services and housing opportunities,” he said.
“This effectively means that about 300 families will not be afforded decent housing in Fort West. It is our view that there is no substantive reason to withhold the grant payments that were confirmed in the Government Gazette. We trust that the Treasury will diligently engage the provincial government in the interests of providing decent services to our people,” he added.