Makhanda drought relief controversy: Where has the money gone?

The controversy brewing around efforts by disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers to help residents of drought-stricken Makhanda in the Eastern Cape, seems no closer to resolution.

After 13 weeks, the NGO has pulled out because it says other companies are now to be paid for the work it has done.

Read: We never promised money to Gift of the Givers, says Makhanda municipality

Founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman says the costs incurred include providing R5-million worth of bottled water to residents, drilling 15 boreholes, having the water tested by international laboratories and bringing in a specialist geologist.

According to Sooliman, the municipality had promised money would be forthcoming once government declared a disaster area, which it has now done.

Pippa Hudson speaks to both Dr Sooliman and Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation.

It's not about the money, it's about the principle... That's why we've pulled out.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder - Gift of the Givers

Ratau confirms that the Department of Water and Sanitation has transferred drought disaster funding to the Makhanda municipality, but says the department has no say about how the money is allocated.

I cannot talk about money that has been paid to other service providers that were not paid by the department.

Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson - Department of Water and Sanitation

The issue of who gets what work done and who gets paid from that money through the municipality's supply chain management processes is something that we are not in control of.

Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson - Department of Water and Sanitation

Somewhere along the line nobody can account where that money has gone.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder - Gift of the Givers

Ratau says it is an issue of great concern and the department will be following up on the processes it has followed in terms of the legislation around disaster management.

All of these efforts that are supposed to be bringing relief to the people of Makhanda are being sidetracked by issues that should not be coming in and that might be able to cast aspersions on the process itself.

Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson - Department of Water and Sanitation

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