Budget passed

“It doesn’t matter what the opposition says, we will push it through!”

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The Bulletin News

“It doesn’t matter what the opposition says, we will push it through!” the words of MMC Ethel Nkosi still rings in the ears of the opposition as the ANC approved the Budget despite the opposition’s disapproval.
In a council meeting on Friday 29 July, the ANC used its majority to approve a budget where figures have been juggled to make the books balance. The mayor used her powers to move figures around to make an R173m deficit disappear. “The deficit is still there,” said Cllr Ciska Jordaan, Caucus leader of the DA, in an interview with the bulletin after the council meeting.
The meeting started on a heated note when opposition parties accused the ANC of misleading the parties as well as the public. There had been a meeting with all the parties in the council where agreements have been reached regarding the budget and the extraordinary council meeting. None of these agreements has been kept by the ANC.
One of the reasons for not keeping to the agreement, as per Cllr Dan Mhlapo, “but you counted our councillors”
The budget was passed on the back of violent protest actions that saw protestors destroying eMbalenhle Mall.
The protests became so violent that the Mpumalanga premier had to address the protestors at the Risko Fakude stadium in eMbalenhle. A special deal was also struck with the 9 ANC to bring them back into the ANC fold. The details of this deal are not known. It was clear though that the G9, as they are called, was in a very jovial mood during the council meeting.
In an attempt to restore calm, Premier Mtsweni made multiple promises to the residents of Govan Mbeki, including Electricity will be directly supplied by Eskom, A committee will be established to investigate allegations of corruption in the municipality, and that there will be a special council meeting for the approval of the GMM budget.
In a statement James Masango MPL and DA spokesperson on CoGTA said that part of the reason why Govan Mbeki Municipality owes Eskom over R524 million is that there is no accurate billing system, meaning that they do not know who owes them what and for which services rendered. In order to give the electricity provision mandate over to Eskom, the municipality will first have to address its billing crisis which could take years.
Currently, four Mpumalanga municipalities are on the top 10 list of municipalities that are failing to pay Eskom. Many more municipalities live with the constant threat of having their bulk electricity supply interrupted because they cannot service their accounts. Simply cutting out the municipality as the provider of electricity will not erase the billions owed to the power utility.
“The DA has repeatedly engaged with Refliwe Mtsweni when she was CoGTA MEC and when she became Premier to ring-fence money due to Eskom and to consider increasing Eskom pay points to make it easier for residents to settle their debt, all of which Premier Mtsweni ignored until violent protests broke out,” said James, “It is the ANC’s own infighting that has brought Govan Mbeki municipality and many other municipalities to their knees.”
Cllr Mofokeng of the EFF said that the budget is not from the people nor is it for the people. “It is there to enrich a certain group of people,” said Mofokeng.
“The budget will NOT address the concerns of the residents of Embalenhle and Kinross,” said Cllr Ciska Jordaan, “who have taken violently to the streets because they are not taken seriously by the ruling party otherwise.”
“The DA is appalled by the deceit and the trickery of the ruling party and the lengths that it will go to, to continue deceiving the people of Govan Mbeki.” Ciska continued, “Let me rather say this time that the Govan Mbeki Municipality is a model city of oppression and a centre of humiliation under the leadership of the dishonourable ANC.”
Ciska also stated that the following critical points remain true to the proposed budget:
1. Though the deficit has decreased, it remains at approximately R160m, while once again there is no realistic foreseeable solution towards compensating for it.
2. The DA maintains that the budget is still not based on the current trend of generating revenue and the expenditure of the municipality, but rather on the previous budget.
3. Electricity and water losses, which the council is painfully aware of, are not included in the budget, making expected income and expenditure also unrealistic and improbable.
4. Compiling and talking about turnaround strategies seem to be an immense waste of time when action is not taken. The municipality will have no resources to work with, turnaround strategies are never implemented, and MPAC items and resolutions relating to MPAC items are either not presented to the council, or implemented after resolution.
5. Repairs and maintenance remain at an undesirable 7%.
6. The budget cannot be funded without revenue.
7. The opposition and, in essence, the council has been misled by party politics and the wretched power struggles of the ANC. After being deceived into thinking that our concerns and that of the community are of value to the structure of the budget, the ANC has made promises on behalf of the council to the community that will inevitably have an impact on the budget.
Cllr Aranda Nel-Buitendag of the FF+ said that the budget is a really poor budget. “How are they going to pay the debts owing to Eskom and Rand water?” She asked.
The ANC has then, by approving the budget, approved the following tariff increases, Water increase by 12,2%. Electricity increase by 6,84%. Rates increase by 5,2%. Refuse removal increase by 5.2% and sewer by 12,2%.
The increases come despite the poor service delivery levels in all of the aspects that will now face increases.

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