Maluti-a-Phofung forced into passing an adjustment budget

Issued by Alison Oates – DA Councillor Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality
16 Mar 2023 in Press Statements

Note to editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Cllr Alison Oates.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) deeply regrets that once again Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality has passed an unrealistic budget. On Friday 10 March 2023, most Councillors agreed that the adjustment budget presented to the council for approval was unrealistic and thus unacceptable.

An absurd shortfall of R1,3 billion, 45% of budgeted expenditure, was budgeted for and the income, although marginally lower, in no way indicates the legislatively required “realistically anticipated revenues to be collected” as stated in Section 18 of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Both by design and serendipity, the budget was presented late on Friday evening and officials got away with claiming that unless the budget was approved provincial treasury would cause all municipal activity to cease for an indeterminate length of time. Calls to explain this did not persuade the DA but resulted in all other political parties approving the budget.

Once again the council, advised by officials, has chosen to ignore that MaP is in financial peril. In addition, instead of attending to the countless faults in the municipality, they think they can solve their problems by ramping up billing.

Undoubtedly residents have to pay for municipal services, but should not be expected to subsidise a bloated organisation.

Salaries are budgeted to the amount of R723 390 000 for the 12 months ending June 2023. It is simply not possible for MaP to generate sufficient funds from selling services, or grants to afford this.

The municipality urgently needs to address amongst other things the issue of ghost workers, too many political staff appointees, and political chairs of committees who earn full-time salaries but are never in the office, possible corruption, and accurate billing.

The DA warned the municipality in June 2022 that the 2022/23 budget was unrealistic but accepted it because all political parties agreed to work together in addressing a funding plan that would address that financial crisis. However soon the project collapsed as the representative did not attend meetings.

The DA will continue to force the council and Provincial Departments to take note of the dire financial situation in the municipality. It seems likely that bar a massive bailout, the municipality will shortly not be able to afford salaries, with disastrous service delivery implications. The DA is committed to bringing change across the country and therefore urges all residents to register to vote in the 2024 National and Provincial Government elections.