After much debate and technicalities, the City of Johannesburg’s 2019/20 budget has finally been approved, despite the African Nationa Congress’ (ANC) absence.
This is because council only needs 136 councillor’s to reach a quorum, the minimum number of councillors necessary to conduct council business, and even after the ANC left there were 137 members present. The ANC decided to leave council halfway through the sitting, and Speaker of Council Vasco Da Gama then decided to retable the budget items once again.
Spokesperson Jolidee Matongo said the ANC believes the budget was not representative of residents’ wishes, expressed in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
“Passing a budget that does not reflect the wishes of people is quite unfortunate. It is clear that the DA will only listen to the EFF. We have made a number of inputs, like the reintroduction of 6kl of free water for all residents, but those were not taken into account.”
The party also rejected the 2017/18 budget, which was the first budget presented by the coalition government since the 2016 municipal elections.
The operational and capital budgets and the IDP for the 2018/19 financial year were passed, as a whole, as the budget.
Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba said this is the budget that will begin a large-scale turnaround of Johannesburg.
The budget was finally passed after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) rejected the initial water and electricity tariff increases. They later recommended changes to be made before accepting the increases. The water and sanitation tariff will thus now increase by 7,17 per cent instead of the original increase of 7,37 per cent. And the electricity increase has been lowered to 13,2 per cent instead of the original increase of 14,2 per cent.
However, the ANC’s Geoffrey Makhubu said the changed tariff increases were cosmetic and would not affect any real change in the City. “It does not go far enough to address the plight of the indigent, the poor and the missing middle,” he said.