News / South Africa

Alex Japho Matlala
2 minute read
31 May 2017
5:25 am

20% budget increase for Limpopo’s traditional leaders not justified – DA

Alex Japho Matlala

The Limpopo MEC for human settlements allocated R496m to chiefs, kings and queens and only R290m to cooperative governance.

Democratic Alliance Limpopo leader Jacques Smalle. Picture: Facebook

Limpopo MEC for human settlements Makoma Makhurupetsa is involved in an ugly spat with the Democratic Alliance (DA) over a 20% budget allocation increase for the affairs of traditional leadership in the province.

Little did Makhurupetsa know that her contentious budget increment announcement at the Limpopo Legislature in Lebowakgomo recently would spark serious tensions and set tongues wagging in rural Limpopo and beyond.

At the centre of the controversy is the fact that Makhurupetsa allocated money to the tune of R496 million to traditional affairs and a paltry R290 million to cooperative governance.

According to the budget, R10 million was set aside for buying new furniture, R70 million for the refurbishment of the VhaVenda Kingship and the Balobedu Queenship councils.

The vocal MEC went on to set R42 million aside for the construction of 185 traditional councils and that of kings and queens, and further allocated R377 million for the compensation of employees of the traditional affairs programme.

The announcement was met with sharp criticism from the DA.

DA member of parliament and party provincial spokesperson Jacques Smalle said the 20% increase in the budget of the traditional affairs programme could not be justified in an environment where nine of the province’s 22 municipalities funded through the cooperative governance programme were on the brink of financial distress.

“This is not on. Makhurupetsa must think out of the box. Allocating such an exorbitant budget to the traditional affairs programme is incongruent with the service delivery backlog and the subsequent suffering of people living without basic amenities,” said Smalle.

But Smalle’s criticisms were lambasted by some traditional leaders, who said the “workaholic” MEC had proved beyond any shadow of a doubt to have the interests of all at heart.

Provincial chairperson for the VhaTshangana Vhatsonga Royal Leaders Union, Felia Nwamitwa, said the new budget would go a long way towards improving the lives of traditional leaders in an endeavour to discharge their day-to-day duties with pride and dignity.

In response to the DA, Makhurupetsa said Limpopo was vastly rural and 82% of the population lived in rural areas led by traditional authorities.

“We are therefore expected to strengthen these institutions, as they remains the authority closest to the people.

“It is on this basis that we find the statement issued by the DA misleading and at best irrational, as it lacked substance backed by facts,” Makhurupetsa told The Citizen.

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