Ugu must be accountable

2016-03-31 06:00

SOME funny things happened last Thursday in Port Shepstone.

The Ugu District Council holds its monthly meeting at 11am. When the DA caucus arrived at 10am to finalise which issues should be raised in council and who would speak, they were denied access to the chamber.

There was a ring of steel around the building and SAPS vehicles were blocking a lane in the street.

A dozen private security officers, some of them armed with shotguns and rifles, lined the pathway to the entrance to the building. Two SAPS officers stood guard close to the door.

I inquired as to what was happening and was told that a provincial MEC was holding a meeting inside council chambers. Then I was told that two MECs were present. I was then informed that the meeting was about taxis. We know that MECs sometimes travel in blue-light cavalcades with several vehicles in a line. I do not know how many personal MEC bodyguards were inside the chamber.

The draft budget for the 2016/1017 year was tabled at the meeting as required by law. It was revealed that Ugu’s annual budget would rise from R1.2 billion to R1.3 billion. As a sop to voters in an election year water tariffs would rise by only 5.7%, while there would be no increase in sanitation tariffs.

The capital budget for the year suffered a sharp drop from R410 million to R368 million (R42 million). This was because the total grants from central government for capital projects were reduced by R56 million for the year to come.

Ugu itself can’t put in much as 58% of the money received from the sale of water and sanitation is used for salaries. This is despite the blue drop report for the provision of water service in municipalities revealing that Ugu’s provision of water services has dropped from 94% in 2009 to only 66% in 2014.

The revised capital budget for 2016/2017 also revealed that executive and council had increased their modest budget from R54 500 to R2.2 million an increase of something like 400%. When I asked what this was about I was told that some of it was to provide for the purchase of a chain and gown for the mayor.

The purchase of this paraphernalia so reminiscent of the colonial past and its pomp and ceremony which has been claimed by President Zuma as causing all the trouble in South Africa occasioned in the first instance by Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival at the Cape, is somewhat ironic.

DD Snashall

Ugu Councillor


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