JOHANNESBURG, January 29 – Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Tuesday challenged private sector engineers to help government with their expertise in repairing the crumbling infrastructure such as roads and waterworks across the country’s struggling municipalities.
Speaking during a panel discussion on collaboration at the inaugural Business Economic Indaba, Mboweni also criticised the private sector for collusion with corrupt municipal officials to swindle ratepayers funds by overcharging on projects.
“If you check the water project in Giyani, it has been overinflated on price overtime. The project started as a R100 million project, but over years it has increased to R4.4 billion. This is corruption driven by private sector consultants. It’s your people. They are colluding with municipal officials,” Mboweni said.
Cooperative governance minister, Zweli Mkhize, said that government was concerned about corruption and the state of municipalities.
Mkhize said that the lack of capacity and critical skills also continued to hamper municipalities, hence they have sent out expert teams to help resolve the crisis from a district level.
“Every business happens in a ward, in a particular municipality. The issues of governance and teams are built for trouble shooting to go solve problems. But what is most encouraging is the issue of partnership between government and business, as well as inclusivity and reaching out to those who are marginalized and addressing inequality,” Mkhize said.
“We need to find formulas on working on a solution to fight fraud and corruption. We need to do this together. If we correct all of these we will create an environment conducive to growth and investment.”
Last year, the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) welcomed government’s focus on infrastructure development in support of economic recovery and job creation but said it hopes that this reprioritisation of infrastructure was accompanied by a real and sustainable commitment and action to re-professionalization and capacitating of public sector departments. (ANA)