Ricochet News

Councillors to again discuss Metro's R12 billion budget and tariff hikes

By Liesl Silverman - Jun 6, 2018
Councillors to again discuss Metro's R12 billion budget and tariff hikes

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is on Wednesday expected to resume a Council Meeting that was meant to debate the Metro's multi-billion Rand budget for the next financial year.

At the council meeting that was held on Wednesday last week, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, presented the municipality's proposed R12 billion budget as well as its Integrated Development Plan (IDP) to Councillors.

He also proposed several tariff increases on services such as water and sanitation, refuse collection, electricity and property rates.

Before the Mayor's speech, protesters from the Metro's ward committees, gathered outside the chamber and began to shout demanding to be allowed into the meeting claiming that their grievances were being ignored by the municipality.

Thereafter, the meeting experienced many disruptions when the African National Congress (ANC), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and other opposition councillors walked out, demanding that the council meeting be adjourned, so that political leaders can address the grievances of the protestors outside.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Council Speaker, Jonathan Lawack, refused to adjourn the meeting for the protestors, but agreed that the opposition council members could take a short break to hear the complaints of the ward committee members and have a brief caucus.

After the opposition parties' caucus, Trollip then delivered the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's IDP and budget proposal, in which he emphasised that the Eastern Cape was still highly grant dependant – a situation that the municipality was trying to reverse.

He added that major investments would be made to the infrastructure in poor areas, such as improving access to clean water, electricity and improving sanitation - in particular getting rid of the hated bucket system.

“Water and electricity security is of upmost importance,” said Trollip.

“R178 million was received as a Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG), and will be spent in the 2018 financial year, on upgrades to public open spaces, public lighting, sports, cultural facilities, water and sanitation.”

However, the proposed budget was highly criticised by opposition councillors.

The ANC said, “The main issues of unemployment and inequality have not been addressed- poor areas need more community services, sports facilities and libraries for the young and unemployed."

Siyasanga Sijadu, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality MMC for Sports, Recreation and Culture, responded to the ANC and said “It is a cheek for the ANC to mention that we need more sports fields and community facilities, when it is the ANC that failed to maintain these facilities”.

EFF councillor, Zilindile Vena, refused to comment on the budget and said that the EFF would wait for the ward committee member’s demands to be addressed first.

Trollip responded, “The planned budget stays as it is, there will be no changes”.

Chaos then ensued with the EFF's Vena saying his party was rejecting the proposed budget and accusing the Democratic Allaince (DA) led coalition of arrogance.

In the end, opposition parties refused to back the budget proposal, resulting in the meeting being postponed.