Greytown budget rebellion

2008-04-27 00:00

Umvoti Mayor Petros Ngubane can say goodbye to a R400 000 car, as well as new chains and ceremonial robes for the speaker.

Greytown residents can also breathe a sigh of relief that their rates will only go up by six percent instead of the 12% proposed by the IFP-led council. Or so claim the ANC on the town’s council.

The ANC say this is because several IFP councillors, after enjoying a sumptuous lunch in the middle of last Thursday’s council meeting, failed to return to take a crucial vote on the 2008/09 budget.

The ANC found themselves in the majority and proceeded to overturn the IFP-run council’s wish list on the budget recommendations and pass a vote of no confidence in the mayor

However, Mayor Ngubane is crying foul, saying the ANC has got it all wrong and does not understand the standing rules. They can’t just pass a motion, he said, they must give notice of such intent at least 10 days before.

He is equally hopeful that the ANC cannot change the budget, claiming the absence of IFP councillors was because there was no official call ending the luncheon adjournment. He added that his party will be taking the matter to the high court tomorrow to have it set aside.

But the ANC is adamant that the speaker rang the bell and the meeting was properly re-convened.

According to the ANC, the meeting started at 12.30 pm and the chief financial officer presented a budget based on the assumption that there would be a 12% rates increase. At 4 pm, they broke for lunch and returned shortly thereafter.

ANC councillor Godfrey Mavundla then stood up and said the rates increase could be reduced to six percent if certain items like the chains and ceremonial gowns were removed. The budgeted cost for these items was about R225 000. Similarly, R400 000 for a new mayoral car could be dropped, as the present one is only two years old. Another saving was scrapping certain ceremonial functions for which R500 000 had been proposed.

The amended budget was then put to the vote.

The IFP, which has a majority of 12 members on the Umvoti council, found that there were only six present. This meant that the ANC, with eight members, were in the majority.

The ANC claims that the budget was passed with their eight votes plus one from the only Democratic Alliance member on the Umvoti council.

The six IFP members opposed the amended budget and their votes were recorded.

According to those present at the meeting, missing when this crucial vote took place were those at the top — the mayor, the chief whip and the deputy mayor of the district.

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