The DA caucus in Umngeni will go through the proposed Council budget with a fine-toothed comb following a meeting last week where ANC councillors approved a draft budget that is riddled with errors and was only emailed to councillors 20 minutes before being approved.
The DA has for years been pushing that councillors receive copies of the draft budget at least 5 calendar days before the meeting – as per the council’s standing rules and orders. This would give councillors a chance to pick up any errors and make constructive suggestions on behalf of the communities that they are elected to represent.
The ANC has, however, insisted that tabling a draft budget means placing the document in front of councillors whilst the Mayor is giving his budget speech. UMngeni’s Standing Rules and Orders of Council are clear and the uMngeni Council Speaker’s persistent and deliberate misinterpretation of them is hampering the Council from doing its work effectively.
Having only had the draft budget for 20 minutes, the DA picked up a number of glaring errors on the rates tariff schedule. We suggested that Council does not approve a document that has not been read and rather note that the draft was tabled late and that any errors are corrected prior to the document being made public. The ANC refused to budge and decided to rather congratulate management on the proposed budget and voted for its unconditional approval.
After analysing the document in more detail the DA has noted that many of the supporting tables are from prior financial years and do not relate to the upcoming fiscal year. We also found that there are discrepancies between the content of the Mayor’s foreword and the Chief Financial Officer’s executive summary.
The DA also has concerns about the insufficient budget for repairs and maintenance. Disappointingly, uMngeni will be passing the entire NERSA approved 17.8% electricity tariff increase on to customers who are already financially constrained from the devastating effects of Covid-19 lockdowns.
The local government budgeting process is required by legislation to be participatory, responsive, transparent and accountable. Rushing error-riddled draft budgets through council and ticking public participation checkboxes are not in the spirit of this legislation and it must stop. The DA caucus will go through the proposed budget and submit amendments that are in the best interests of the entire uMngeni community. UMngeni cannot continue to present copy and paste budgets to the community it represents.
The ANC is failing to govern UMngeni, people of UMngeni must rise and discard this government now. The DA is ready and waiting to give people a clean and accountable government that will put their needs first.