DA concerned by Human Settlements' underspending

The department spent less than half of the R1.2 billion allocated to it for toilets.

FILE: The department spent less than half of the R1.2 billion allocated to it for toilets. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants the Department of Human Settlements officials to appear before Parliament to explain how grants more than R700 million meant for rural infrastructure projects went unspent.

A special performance report by the auditor-general, tabled to Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) last week, revealed that between 2010 and 2013 the department spent less than half of the R1.2 billion allocated to it for toilets in rural areas across the country.

It had been spent mostly on ventilated improved pit toilets.

DA MP David Ross says the department has to be held accountable.

"What we'll do is call the officials from the Department of Human Settlements to the Scopa committee to explain and to see that we have consequences for the misspent of this money. And we would also like to pose some questions to the finance minister with regards to the implementation of the Public Finance Management Act."

He says the underspending has left a lot of people in a lurch.

"The Scopa reveals that 3.6 million households still do not have access to basic sanitation services. It's a huge backlog to get basic services in terms of toilets to the poorest of the poor. An opportunity was lost."