Ricochet News

Metro stands to lose nearly R179 million after Council impasse

By Afikile Lugunya - May 4, 2018
Metro stands to lose nearly R179 million after Council impasse

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Councillors on Thursday failed to pass a motion that was to ensure the spending of a R178.8 million municipal grant before the financial year ends in June and now stands to lose it, when it goes back to National Treasury.

The motion was introduced by the Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition government, which suggested that the money be used to replace Nooitgedacht project pipelines to address the 60% water loss in that system and also to fix street lights, for improvements at the Motherwell cemetery among other service delivery projects.

However, the DA led-coalition failed to get the 51% it needed for the motion to pass as opposition parties, who have maintained that the Municipality has since 2016, when the DA-led coalition took reins, failed to prioritise the needs of township residents in its budget and in this proposed additional expenditure, blocked it.

Acting Chief Budget and Financial Accounting Officer, Jackson Ngcwelwane, emphasised to Council that the grant needed to be spent by the 30th of June 2018 or it will be sent back to National Treasury.

He said that from July to October, they won't be able to utilise the money, because, while the money is in the Municipality's bank account, it belongs to National Government.

“When we were planning last week, we saw that, if we continue to do well, then we will be getting additional grants as we move along. The money given is taken from bigger Metropolitans such as the City of Johannesburg, City of Cape Town and thrown to the NMB, Buffalo City, Mangaung and Ekurhuleni," Ngcwelwane described.

For the Metro to utilise the money, it needs Council's approval. Unfortunately, the motion did not go through as opposition parties felt that the money should be used to build RDP houses in the townships among other projects "instead of prioritising DA-led communitities".

The African National Congress (ANC) added that addressing the plight of people in the townships will ensure that the Nelson Mandela Bay does not see violent service delivery protests like seen in Cape Town.

It further argued that the issue of the grant should have been discussed in a standing committee meeting before it was tabled before Council and described the Metro's Department of Finance as chaotic.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) said that Council was being misled because they received the proposal document without a confirmation date. It added that the money was being re-allocated to only service DA wards.

The United Front (UF) said that they were not given enough information to make an informed decision on the grant.

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said that they don’t have issues with the grant, but were unhappy about how Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler, spent money previously without adhering to Council's resolutions and ensuring that the money spent benefits all residents.

The Metro now stands to lose the R178.8 million back to National Treasury. The matter will be discussed further in the next Council meeting set to the 10th of May.