Masualle tackled on Masiphathisane funds mismatch

Bhisho MPLs want to clear up a mystery surrounding the budget of a service delivery programme.

The chairman of the portfolio committee for the office of the premier, Sicelo Gqobana, said provincial treasury had stated that the budget for the Operation Masiphathisane programme was R23-million.

Premier Phumulo Masualle had said the budget was R20-million.

However, the provincial government director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu had said the budget was R10-million.

Gqobana revealed this during the legislature’s debate on the Appropriation Bill.

Masiphathisane is an “integrated service delivery” project of the provincial government spearheaded by Masualle’s office and has since earned him the nickname of “Simanxadanxada” (We are busy), which is the slogan for Masiphathisane.

DA MPL and former Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela criticised the programme as a waste of money, saying it duplicated other government services.

“Why is our premier allocating funds, which we as a province cannot afford, to Operation Masiphathisane, which is simply a duplication of local government ward committees and a duplication of the function of Integrated Government Relations (IGR), when our province, particularly our education and health departments, are crying out for access to broadband?

“Surely health and education are more important than fruitless and wasteful expenditure on structures that already exist.”

Masualle did not refer to the different budget figures said to have been given by him, Mbina-Mthembu and treasury, but instead replied:

“We must always, all the time, ensure that quality of information presented to the house is of good standards and verifiable,” he said.

Yesterday Masualle and Somyo’s offices attempted to explain the discrepancy in the financial figures.

Provincial treasury spokeswoman Nosisa Sogayise said the actual budget for Masiphathisane was R23-million, but split into R13-million given to the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs and R10-million allocated under OTP.

Masualle’s spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga agreed, but none of the two explained the R20-million figure attributed to the premier by the committee.

Both said the R10-million given to OTP was for the branding and marketing of the Masiphathisane programme while the R13-million given to Cogta was meant to pay salaries for community development workers who work at “War Rooms”, which are supposedly meant to be set up in all wards across the province.

Masualle told the house on Tuesday that DA-run Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Kouga local municipality had both chosen not to be included in Masiphathisane.

The two municipalities said they had issues with the uncertain funding model of Masiphathisane, fearing that it would end up being taken from their municipal coffers. —