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'Political egos' again see Nelson Mandela Bay without a 2018/19 budget

By Afikile Lugunya - Jun 12, 2018
'Political egos' again see Nelson Mandela Bay without a 2018/19 budget

Residents and businesses in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will have to wait until Wednesday to hear if the Metro will have a budget after a third attempt to pass its 2018/2019 budget again failed on Tuesday due to a political deadlock at Council.

Time is running out for the Metro as the new financial year starts on 1 July.

At the council meeting that was held on the 30th of May, 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.

However, that meeting collapsed and it had to be rescheduled for the 6th June. 

That meeting had to be adjourned again.

For a moment on Tuesday, there was a gleamer of hope after a smaller opposition party, the African Independent Congress (AIC), made a u-turn and announced that it would lend its single vote to the Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition, which needs 61 votes in the 120-seat Council to see the budget through.

The AIC's Councillor Tshonono Buyeye had actually kept everyone in suspense as he delayed announcing his response on whether his party would support the budget or not. 

He first of all told Council, that money had been wasted in seeking legal opinion on whether the law had been followed in the preparation of the budget - which was one of the reasons why opposition parties decided not to support it.

Cllr Buyeye reiterated his earlier concerns - the same concerns shared by the other opposition parties, that the proposed budget does not seek to better the lives of the poor residents of the Metro in any way.

He, however, said that he was going to support it because the AIC's national leadership had pressured him to do so.

"The AIC does not want to see people suffer because of political egos." 

Besides, the DA (with 57 seats), it is the Congress of the People (COPE), the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) - with one seat each, who are supporting the budget. 

The official opposition in the Nelson Mandela Bay, the African National Congress (ANC) - which has 50 votes, stated that they will not support the proposed 2018/2019 budget because it doesn't benefit their Wards, which is where the poor live.

The party said that at the end of the day, their Councillors will face pressure and have to answer difficult questions from residents in their Wards after passing a budget that will not benefit them.

Meanwhile, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), which was once part of the DA-led coalition until last year and has two seats, also didn't support the budget because "it is a bargaining budget".

Former Deputy Executive Mayor and the UDM's Regional Chairperson, Mongameli Bobani, added that local residents were not involved in compiling of the proposed budget and the Metro's IDP.

"It should be the people, who tell the government what to do, not the government, who just decides what to do for the people without involving them". 

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which has six seats at Council, said that they will not support the budget either because the DA-led coalition government refuses to engage and to listen to input from opposition parties. 

Another opposition party, the United Front (UF), which has one seat, said that they will not support the proposed budget because it doesn't meet their demands.

As proceedings continued, the opposition parties - including the AIC, were allowed by the Speaker Jonathan Lawack, to leave the Council Chamber to caucus.

They had asked for 10 minutes, then came back and asked for another 30 minutes.

However, after the 30 minutes, the opposition parties did not return to the Council Chamber forcing the Speaker to postpone the meeting to Wednesday.