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Opposition parties give budget thumbs down

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Opposition parties have objected to Sol Plaatje Municipality’s 2022/23 annual budget.

Picture: Sandi Kwon Hoo

THE 2022/23 annual budget at Sol Plaatje Municipality has not received the thumbs up from opposition parties, due to “a lack of public consultation”.

Speaker Nomazizi Maputle, during a council meeting this week, advised that the public participation meetings were poorly attended.

The chief financial officer and acting municipal manager, Lydia Thekisho, said 18 out of a total of 33 wards had completed the public participation process on the budget and proposed electricity tariffs.

She cautioned councillors that the municipality would have to be placed under administration if the budget was not approved by May 31.

“Failure to approve the budget and implement proposals to raise revenue by July 1 will result in the municipality being placed under administration and the MEC for the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs will have to dissolve council.”

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EFF chief whip Thandeka Landella objected to and rejected the proposed annual budget and believed that it was “uninformed and ill-prepared”.

“We reject with disdain the processes or rather the failed processes followed by the administration and the undermining of our public. We reject this collation of the budget due to the lack of proper consultation, implementation of ideas and suggestions. Our municipality needs a sustainable, strong, well-informed and radical plan.”

Landella stated that thorough public participation did not take place.

“The EFF will not become accomplices of crime in a dysfunctional municipality.”

FF+ Frances Baard district councillor Theo Joubert noted that the budgets made no allowance for the maintenance of infrastructure at district municipalities as the funds had been drastically cut.

DA councillor Heinrich Pieterse said the city faced renewed threats of a citywide “blackout” due to the controversial electricity tariff announcements.

“This is largely due to the prospects of passing a budget that has not been properly consulted on through public participation.”

In a letter addressed to the Speaker, DA caucus chairperson and councillor Elize Niemann pointed out that council did not adhere to the legislation pertaining to public participation in the budget as well as the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).

“Municipalities need to develop mechanisms to interact with community groups to identify service needs and priorities as well as community resources that can be unlocked and channelled for development ends. This includes public participation in relation to the budget and IDP.”

She indicated that sufficient public participation did not take place and therefore the budget could not be approved.

“Council should apply for an extension for the current cut-off date for the approval of the budget and final IDP.”

ACDP councillor Roddy Loff believed that the community’s concerns were not being taken seriously.

“The so-called public participation meetings collapsed as some officials did not attend. Officials knew about these meetings and should have availed themselves.”

ANC councillor Frikkie Banda requested an extension to avoid any legal implications if the public was not thoroughly consulted.

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