DA and FF Plus reject the J.B. Marks R1.6 billion budget

The Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus have explained why they did not support the J.B. Marks R1.6 billion budget that was adopted last Wednesday.

The ANC, with the support of the independent councillors, adopted the budget during the executive mayor’s State of the City Address.
Hans-Jurie Moolman, the DA caucus chairperson says his party was not prepared to place a budget at the disposal of an administration where there is zero accountability in respect of irregular, fruitless and wasteful and unauthorised expenditure, as highlighted by the Auditor-General over several consecutive financial years.
J.B. Marks has become a free-for-all municipality
‘Basically, the AG is saying that J.B. Marks has become a free-for-all municipality. This is also evident in the fact that, on 53 occasions, he was not able to state an audit opinion as the supporting documents were missing. The municipality is required to report to council on the current financial, management performance and sustainability of the municipality.’ This resulted in a disclaimer which, Moolman said, is the worst possible result for our municipality. ‘There are simply no convincing signs of any means or a political will to address this terrible mess and yet the executive mayor seemed to have been in a celebratory mood during his Soca – as if there is nothing wrong,’ he said.
He added that the budget and several policies were presented as separate items on the agenda. When the DA requested proof of public participation and wanted to discuss the respective policies individually, the request was refused.
‘The budget was put to the vote and the approval of the budget and policies were just steam-rolled through without allowing any discussion.
‘The majority party defeated our vote against the budget with the generous support of the independent councillors because, without their support, they would not have succeeded. We have come to recognise the ANC’s method of engagement. It is a means of avoiding having to answer questions that are of critical concern to the residents of our city.’
Moolman highlighted what he termed ‘one of the worst issues that we were able to raise’.
The council has adopted a policy that Potchefstroomers, from now on, will only get 75 per cent back of the consumers’ deposit they pay when they open their account at the municipality. This means the other 25 per cent was unilaterally appropriated, even though it is trust money to which the municipality is not entitled. ‘These are public funds that we are required to guard in a fiduciary capacity.’
According to Moolman, the council was warned to prepare for more of the same (irregular, unauthorised and fruitless and wasteful expenditure) because of the financial duress under which the municipality is currently functioning. No specifics were provided to support the projection. Unfortunately, the official opposition was not afforded an opportunity to raise issues or provide answers and had no option but to oppose the budget. ‘The majority party no longer has an appetite for transparency or accountability,’ he said.
FF Plus cannot support a budget that allows inflated prices to be paid for items
Fanie du Toit from the Freedom Front Plus says his party appreciates the fact that the 2018 expenditure management policy has been adopted. ‘…The Auditor-General has mentioned on numerous occasions that consequence management had to be implemented as a matter of urgency,’ he said.
‘It was because of the ANC’s mismanagement in Ventersdorp that the town crumbled to the state in which we inherited it with the forced amalgamation. To combat mismanagement, the adoption of the 2018 expenditure management policy is a step in the right direction but it is up to the mayor to manage and implement its prescripts and measures,’ he said.
‘Up to now, we have not seen much action, in spite of the AG’s instruction that immediate action should be taken. If the political will existed, it would not have been necessary for the AG to impose consequences for transgressions. Money is being wasted and services are not being rendered to rate-paying citizens. At the moment, we see the collapse of infrastructure daily.
‘The ANC’s and other political parties’ support of the IDP Plan is steering funds away from areas where the municipal collection rates are high. This undermines economic investment and demotivates individuals and businesses who have to pay rates when services are not being rendered,’ he said.
Writing off accounts that are in arrears contributes to a culture of non-payment
Du Toit says writing off accounts that are in arrears contributes to a culture of non-payment and drains municipal funds. ‘The FF Plus believes that everyone has the right to basic services but not at the expense of others. Everyone must contribute to the economy.’
He added that the FF Plus cannot support a budget that allows inflated prices to be paid for items and/or services.
‘We cannot support a budget that is supposed to focus on service delivery but seems to be a political propaganda vehicle. Neither can we support an unfunded budget,’ he concluded.
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Selogile Leshage

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