Nelson Mandela Bay municipality finally passes its budget after fourth attempt

Speaker Jonathan Lawack, Mayor Athol Trollip and UDM's Mongameli Bobani. (Gallo Images)

Speaker Jonathan Lawack, Mayor Athol Trollip and UDM's Mongameli Bobani. (Gallo Images)

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has avoided being placed under administration, after the fourth sitting of a special council meeting to pass the next year’s financial budget was finally successful.

On Tuesday, African Independent Congress (AIC) councillor Tshonono Buyeye declared his party would support the budget during the meeting.

Buyeye, however, then left the council ― in the company of ANC councillor Andile Lungisa and the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Mongameli Bobani ― and never returned. This resulted in the meeting collapsing and being postponed to Wednesday.

It later emerged that key deliberations between opposition parties to convince the AIC not to vote on the budget had taken place since Monday.

Matatiele at centre

At the centre of the negotiation is the town of Matatiele, which the AIC wants moved back to KwaZulu-Natal, after a change by the demarcation board placed it under the Eastern Cape in 2005.

Wednesday’s meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 09:00, started an hour late after the Democratic Alliance-led coalition employed delaying tactics, as they waited for Buyeye to arrive. 

The only other member of the opposition to attend council was councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila from the United Front.

Councillors from the ANC, UDM and Economic Freedom Fighters boycotted the meeting.

Once Buyeye entered the council chamber, the order of business was quickly dealt with. Speaker Jonathan Lawack immediately put the budget items to the vote.
One by one, the items passed with the required 61 votes.

At the conclusion of the voting process, Mtsila raised an objection and expressed his disappointment in Lawack, as the speaker had only called for votes in favour, and had never given him the opportunity to vote against the budget.

Lawack apologised and Mtsila’s opposing votes were noted. Both Buyeye and Mtsila then left council, once again collapsing the meeting, as the coalition only have 60 seats in council and they need 61 to quorate.

This meant that compliance issues, such as the writing off of the more than R8-billion in irregular expenditure could not be passed.

Pleased budget passed

After the meeting, Mayor Athol Trollip said they were pleased with the result and praised AIC president Mandla Galo for instructing Buyeye to support the budget.

Trollip said Galo had confirmed that he had been approached by Lungisa over Matatiele and had given the ANC a deadline of 08:00 on Wednesday morning to deliver on promises made, and that these had obviously not materialised.

Earlier, ANC caucus leader Bicks Ndoni said Tollip’s statement that the ANC was seeking to have the metro placed under administration in order to continue plundering the city ahead of next year’s general elections were wild allegations.

“This thing of administration is aimed at shifting attention away from the legitimate concerns that we are raising,” he said.

ANC councillor Rory Riordan, said the coalition had deliberately laundered the budget and hidden expenses to make it appear pro-poor.

“They are laundering the figures desperately,” he said.

“Hundreds and hundreds of millions have been put into support services, because if they were put into the ward budgets, they would be in the white areas,” he said.

Riordan said if this was taken into consideration, he estimated only 40% to 45% was being spent on addressing the needs of the poor, as opposed to the over 90% claimed by the DA. — News24

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