The list of cost-cutting measures was distributed before it was even discussed in a council meeting
COST-cutting measures to be implemented by the Sol Plaatje Municipality, which are believed will impact on service delivery, have been met with disbelief by some of the city’s fathers.
Rosie Ludick, a Cope councillor, accused the acting municipal manager, Ruth Sebolecwe, of making decisions on her own, without consulting the city council.
“As a Sol Plaatje municipal councillor, I condemn the memo provided by an individual within in the municipality, who is taking decisions on behalf of council.”
Ludick added that the council had specifically asked each and every department in the municipality to come up with measures on how they could raise revenue in their departments, which they would then present to council.
“This memo (issued by Sebolecwe to all executive directors and line managers) outlines critical and important measures, which will have a direct influence on basic services.”
She added that there were some measures that her party would agree with, “but we have a problem with the procedure that was followed in that the list of cost-cutting measures was distributed before it was even discussed in a council meeting”.
“We cannot punish the community by making impulsive decisions that will affect services.”
Ludick stated further that decisions taken by council needed to be in the best interests of both the community and the municipality. “One cannot just ignore or take away the constitutional rights of the one group.
“This matter needs to be discussed and elaborated on at the correct and legal platform.”
She stated that sponsorships to Diamonds and Dorings and the Gariep Kunstefees, as well as unnecessary catering, self-created overtime, appointments etc. have to be “taboo” to assist the already crippled budget.
“However, taking away electricity vendors is not the right move. We need to apply our minds as councillors of the municipality.”
She called on the acting Speaker to afford councillors an opportunity to discuss the matter at the next council meeting, which is set for Wednesday next week.
“If R140m needs to be generated then so be it, but this must not only be at the expense of the community.”
The municipality is facing a massive budget deficit after it was forced to scrap the R260 basic charge for electricity following violent community protests.
Indications are that the budget deficit could be between R110 to R140 million and earlier this week a list was sent to all directors and line managers outlining severe cost-cutting measures.
These included overtime, vacancies not critical, the security contract, the sale of leave, travelling and accommodation allowances, catering, entertainment, sport etc.
Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, explained that the list was an internal document.
“It is a plan to mitigate the expected shortfall and not an adjustment on the budget, as this will only be presented in the mid-term budget early in the new year.
“It is essentially a guideline, or a plan that we are putting on the table, which is aimed at sensitising all departments to the potential cash flow problem.”
Matsie explained that most of the cuts would come from the operational budget, although a few capital projects would also be affected.
“The idea is to continue with capital projects that were started in the previous financial year and to delay those projects that have not yet started.”
Regarding proposed savings from the electricity vendor budget, Matsie explained that a certain percentage of sales went to the vendor.
“Obviously if the sales of electricity are down, the amount paid to the vendor will also be less, so that is a potential saving.
“It is not that we will necessarily be paying vendors a lower percentage.”