The 2018/2019 budget is approved! Or not!
The view differs from ruling party to opposition. During the council meeting held on Tuesday 29 May, chaos erupted as opposition parties voiced their dissatisfaction and disapproval of the proposed budget and refused to participate in the approval or discussion of the budget. The end result is that all the opposition parties left the council before any items on the agenda had been discussed.
The EFF asked the speaker to remove item A49/05/2018 (Medium-term revenue and expenditure framework (budget) for the 2018/2019 financial and two outer years). This is the item that referred to the budget. They refused to participate in any of the items of the council meeting if the item were not removed from the start. The speaker refused and claimed that “we are not on the item yet.” The EFF then walked out of the meeting.
The council meeting then proceeded until point four on the agenda. Point four was the “State of the municipality” address by the executive mayor. According to the opposition parties, this state of the municipality address was wrought with incorrect claims and self-glorifying statements by the Mayor Thandi Ngxonono.
In response to the mayor’s speech, Cllr Ciska Jordaan, Caucus leader of the DA said “GMM is currently a model city of disgrace and a center of disappointment!” thus echoing the voices of most of the residents in Govan Mbeki Municipal area.
In her speech, Ciska made the following statements:
• A deficit has been budgeted for with no solution to compensate for the deficit.
• Electricity and water losses are not included in the budget making the expected income and expenditure unrealistic.
• Vehicles for both the mayor and speaker are included in the original budget to which the opposition has objected severely.
• Various MFMA sections are not complied with.
• Only 7% of the budget is allocated towards repairs and maintenance.
• At the public participation meetings, with regards to the budget and IDP (integrated development plan), the public has rejected both the budget and IDP in all areas of GMM. The public demanded proper consultation and a budget that is possible.
The DA then proceeded to leave the council chambers followed by the FF+ and Sapromo.
The remaining ANC members continued in their usual fashion with the meeting approving the budget.
Thus the question: Is the budget approved or not?
The standing orders of council states there should be a quorum at all times. Once there is no longer a quorum then the council can decide to wait for a further 20 minutes to form a quorum or to reconvene.
It is all in the numbers. ANC holds 36 seats, DA 15 seats, EFF 9 seats, the FF+ 2 seats and Sapromo 1. The total councillors being 63 and a quorum is then 33 councillors. So it should be easy maths.
The ANC holds the majority and they are more than 33 if all the ANC councillors attend but it was not the case, 9 ANC councillors have refused to participate in all council activities until their demands are met and did not attend the meeting. This is the ANC dilemma. How to circumvent the fact that there were only 27 councillors in council as 9 ANC councillors did not attend the council in protest.
“The ANC has manipulated the standing orders to suit their own agenda,” said Ciska, “They will try and twist the standing orders any way they can. When confronted with the fact that they don’t give notice of meetings as per standing orders they would just continue stating that the standing orders is just a guide (as per Cllr Dan Nhlapo), now they quote the standing orders as a rule again.”
The speaker, Cllr Nhlakanipo Zuma said that “according to the standing orders, a councillor or an official can raise the fact that there is no quorum, then a headcount must be done. This was not done.”
The speaker referred to rule 5.3.1 of the standing orders that states “If at any time during a Council meeting it is brought to the attention of the speaker that the meeting may no longer form a quorum the speaker shall halt proceedings in order to perform a head count.
Zuma said that there was a quorum at the start of the meeting and therefore it still existed when they approved the budget.
Both the FF+ and the EFF have also expressed their concerns about the budget.
Cllr Aranda Nel Buitendag (FF+) said that the budget did not make provisions for the Eskom and Rand Water debts and that the shortfall is unacceptable. The issues of the mayor’s and speaker’s cars are also not acceptable.
Cllr Humphrey Dube of the EFF said that the IDP does not speak to the people “this IDP is for them (the ANC) just to have us rubber stamp it. It does not address any needs of the community!” Humphrey further said, “it is only meant for a few individuals that want to secure tenders for themselves out of this IDP.”
The next step for the ANC would be to submit their “approved” budget to the National Treasury. According to the MFMA (Municipal Finance Management Act), this must be done within 7 days of acceptance.
As for the opposition parties, they are adamant that the budget has not been approved. They have even hinted that they still have some Aces in their sleeves.
The result of not submitting an approved budget is quite severe. The MFMA calls for intervention by the provincial government or even placing the municipality under administration.
James Masango, member of the Provincial Legislator and previous DA provincial leader made calls to the provincial leadership for intervention every time the Eskom monstrous debt rears its head. Only to be told that the provincial legislator will not intervene for an Eskom debt alone.
Only time will tell what the future holds for GMM financial status.
The question still remains though: Is the budget approved or not?
The 2018/2019 budget is approved! Or not!