If the City of Johannesburg were a business, it would be liquidated as far back as 2015, writes Councillor Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, Democratic Alliance (DA) Caucus Leader
After listening to the Budget Speech by the MMC of Finance Councillor Dada Morero, it is clear that both the MMC of Finance and Mayor Kabelo Amanda are completely out of touch with what is happening in the City.
Councillor Morero said nothing to indicate that the budget is funded, it is clear from the comments by National Treasury in the report, that the budget is unfunded.
We are very concerned that the MMC has indicated an increase in both Capex and Opex in the JRA budget over three years, with no clear indication of where it will be spent.
The DA would allocate much more Capex on water infrastructure upgrades and in fact, allow the private sector developers to build water towers and put measures in place to ensure it is in line with city standards, to ensure that our residents enjoy the benefits of clean stable water and to avoid day zero and investment in the city continues.
The DA would also allocate more Capex on power infrastructure upgrades, to make it easier for independent power producers to work with the city and fast-track the process to free our residents from ANC Eskom load-shedding.
The MMC mentions a rate increase of only 2%, but you can clearly see that the increases are hidden elsewhere in the tariff increases.
The MMC spoke about the effects of load-shedding, but he fails to mention that the problems that City power is experiencing are because of ANC load-shedding, you cannot mention load-shedding without mentioning the ANC who is in charge of the National government and is in charge of Eskom.
City Power had always been the City’s problem child.
We would like to see where this funding would come from, especially since more and more residents are moving to solar and going off the grid since the failure of the City to invest heavily in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance over the past 30 years.
Water is a basic human right, we have seen water and sewer bursts across the City.
The fact that MMC of Finance is allocating R3.8 billion for water main replacement, R3.4billion for sewer main replacement is commendable.
We are concerned that the ANC’s mismanagement of 30 years and lack of maintenance, we are not holding our breath that this will translate to service delivery on the ground since the ANC is known for enriching cadres politically aligned with them.
The MMC mentions free Wi-Fi, but there is nothing for Mahala, it is ultimately the ratepayers who pay for this with very little being done on the ground.
There are residents who pay their water and electricity bills but are currently without water and electricity.
It is clear that the residents who are ratepayers have to pay and get nothing in return.
MMC Morero mentioned a feasibility study, on IPPs and Small Scale Embedded Generation, but these were already done under the Multiparty Government that even hosted an Energy Indaba.
Why is the GLU bent on reinventing the wheel?
Councillor Morero seems not to be aware that the majority of entities are not VAT compliant and legally should not be trading. Enquiries to the City Manager through the Governance Section 79 resulted in cancelled meetings because they refuse to account.
The MMC mentioned the big investment in Development planning and the Single Law Enforcement Unit.
We welcome this and commend the MMC for continuing what the Multiparty government started because that will assist in development to continue in the City and assist with building and land use by law enforcement especially where the building is done over servitudes that delay service delivery.
However, what we are concerned about is the MMC said nothing about how the Bulk Contributions can be utilised to assist where these developments are taking place without strain on the infrastructure.
The DA has a plan, we would ring-fence a portion of the Bulk Contribution to ensure that where densification happens a portion of that Development Contribution is spent where the development actually happens, in fact, we would even allow the Private Sector to build it and give them a rebate on their rates as opposed to the current offset system.
The City invested heavily in opportunity centres that included having a job seekers database, the MMC and the Mayor talk about job creation but mention nothing about the use of this job seekers database.
Are the jobs reserved for GLU-aligned cadres?
The Mayor mentioned a rebasing exercise, initiated by the multiparty government.
The exercise would see the budget cut drastically, in line with being more realistic, instead of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul; however, we see a massive increase in the budget with uncertainty as to how it will be funded.
The MMC said nothing about utilising Outdoor Advertising to enhance revenue generation.
The DA would work with the private sector to ensure that where precincts are developed companies are incentivised for development in that precinct to encourage investment in the area in question and relax the bylaws in these precincts.
The MMC mentions enhancement in procurement processes, I hope these enhancements do not include the abuse of Regulation 32 and Regulation 36 to avoid scrutiny.
What would be an enhancement is if the Executive Adjudication Committee is open to scrutiny for the public to view the process, which would really be transparent.
However, one can never mention the ANC and Transparency in one sentence. In conclusion, this is not a people’s budget; this is an ANC and GLU election campaign budget, to provide jobs for cadres.
The budget is not inclusive at all, the City is in freefall with an unrealistic, unfunded budget under the Doomsday Coalition of the GLU and the residents will experience the lack of service delivery on the ground.
The DA will ensure that we hold this administration accountable, to ensure that this doomsday coalition of the GLU does not take us and our residents to the point of no return and become another failed municipality like other ANC Municipalities across the country.
*The author of this column is Councillor Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku, the Democratic Alliance Caucus Leader in the City of Johannesburg. The views expressed by Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku are not necessarily those of The Bulrushes