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Political impasse sees Cllrs again failing to agree on Metro’s R12 billion budget

By Afikile Lugunya - Jun 6, 2018
Political impasse sees Cllrs again failing to agree on Metro’s R12 billion budget

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Councillors on Wednesday again failed to pass the Metro’s 2018/2019 budget and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) after reaching a deadlock.

Wednesday’s meeting was a continuation of the meeting that was adjourned last week Wednesday after opposition Councillors walked out in protest of what they termed the Democratic Alliance (DA) led coalition’s arrogance.

The debate on the “authentic” and “pro-poor” budget proposal delivered by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, will now be heard next week Tuesday as officials seek legal advice on how to break the political deadlock in Council.

The municipality has until the end of the month to pass the R12 billion budget as well as other proposed tariff hikes. However, opposition councillors have rejected it as a “budget that doesn’t benefit the poor” in the Bay.

There had been some hope that the budget and IDP would be passed on Wednesday after the United Front (UF) and the African Independent Congress (AIC) walked in to give the 120-seat Council the 61 votes it needed to have a quorum.

This is after the African National Congress (ANC), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) had decided not to be part of the meeting.

However, when it was time to vote to pass the budget, the UF and AIC abstained stating that the budget’s “80% should be allocated to the disadvantaged areas.”

Speaking for the UF, Cllr Mkhuseli Mtsila, further said that they refuse to take the proposed budget seriously if it not signed by the Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler, because it raises issues over its credibility.

“We won't support anything that is not within the law,” he said.

The AIC’s Cllr Tshonono Buyeye said that they only received proposed ward-based allocations in the morning while, by law, they should have been given to them seven days before the meeting so that they will have time to peruse through the documents.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Chief Whip, Werner Senekal, suggested that legal advice be approached to prove the credibility of the budget, which Buyeye agreed to after a long debate.

The ANC said that they will not support the budget because they would be doing injustice to the people of the Metro.

It said that the proposed budget doesn’t address critical matters that face the poor and the working class in the Metro, especially in the townships.

The ANC’s, Bicks Ndoni, added that the proposed budget is an attack to their 26 Wards while the DA has 25 wards. He said the DA is all about feeding a political agenda, not about the people.

"The budget is not supporting the needs of the poor people in the Metro. It is focusing more on the developed areas,” added the UDM’s Mongameli Bobani.

The EFF’s Zilindile Vena said that they will not participate in a budget that seeks to ignore the poor in the Northern Areas and in the townships.

“They have declared war with the EFF and we are going to expose them that they don’t have the interests of the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trollip said that he was deeply concerned by the delay after he delivered an “authentic budget”.

“I believe that the budget is real and authentic because no budget has ever been debated like this one in the history of this Metro,” he described.

“The qualification certificate is very clear and it says that the city manager must sign a document to affirm an adopted budget not a draft and the city manager couldn’t sign anything prior to the IDP being passed which was only passed on the 30th of last week.”