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Elections create havoc at Sol

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"One of the few meetings that did sit this year was where councilors voted themselves an increase in their monthly salaries"

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THE UPCOMING elections are creating havoc with the effective running of the Sol Plaatje City Council as meetings are continuously postponed.

Only 15 – out of 65 councillors – arrived for a Special Council meeting set for yesterday morning. The meeting was due to be held on April 12 but was postponed to 10am yesterday morning.

The meeting, which was set down to allow councillors to discuss the new budget, including the proposed tariff increases, could, however, not get under way as too few councillors arrived to form a quorum.

The meeting was organised to not only debate the Annual Budget for the 2019/20 financial year but also to approve the public participation programme.

The executive mayor, Patrick Mabilo, recently gave city residents the assurance that tariff increases would not be unilaterally implemented but would be discussed first with residents.

The series of public participation meetings are due to start today, with a meeting with the business forum in the Kimberley City Hall. There have been no advertisements, however, stating the times and venues for these public meetings, while councillors themselves have not had the opportunity to discuss the proposed budget.

Even a “postponed Ordinary Council” meeting, which was originally postponed to April 17, was again postponed. No new date was given for the meeting.

Committees of the council have also been postponed repeatedly, including a Mayoral Committee meeting which was due to take place tomorrow. This meeting was also postponed yesterday “until further notice”.

Earlier this month, several committee meetings were postponed “till further notice due to preparations for the by-elections”.

Already a number of committee meetings, scheduled to take place next month, have already been postponed – this time due to “Special Votes”. This included the IDP and Corporate Services meetings, scheduled for May 7.

One of the few meetings that did sit this year was where councillors voted themselves an increase in their monthly allowances and salaries.

At this meeting, DA councillor Phillip Vorster questioned whether councillors were entitled to an allowance, let alone an increase, because for nine months last year committees and council failed to sit at all.

Vorster pointed out yesterday that councillors had asked for a discussion regarding the budget to prevent the situation that happened last year, when the municipality tried to institute at R260 basic electricity levy, causing an uproar from the community and plunging the city into chaos.

“The same thing, however, is happening again this year. There are substantial tariff increases being proposed in the new budget to make up for the shortfall experienced this year. However, the discussions around this are not taking place. I am not sure why yesterday’s meeting did not take place as both the executive mayor and the Speaker were in their offices.”

Persome Oliphant, spokesperson for the Office of the Executive Mayor, said yesterday that the administration of the Sol Plaatje Municipality was fully functional, operational and delivering on its core mandate.

“The Special Council meeting will reconvene on Thursday to discuss the matters pertaining to the budget and public participation,” she stated.