Durban - In a “clear violation of council procedures”, reports with financial implications involving millions of rand have been approved at a full eThekwini council meeting by the ANC before being debated by one of the portfolio committees.
According to members of opposition parties, the ANC decided unilaterally to approve a series of reports that had not been debated.
A report on a R500 million programme of land acquisition and road development and related work over the next three financial years should have been discussed at a meeting of the human settlements and infrastructure committee. However, the meeting was cancelled and the report was tabled at an executive committee (exco) meeting last week.
Reports should be debated by members of a standing committee before they are tabled at an exco meeting and then put to the full council for approval.
DA caucus leader Tex Collins said two reports dealing with the regularisation of expenditure had been approved in such a way.
For such approval, the council first had to apply for condonation from the National Treasury.
“Exco must be given a clear and concise view of what the standing committee felt about each and every issue,” Collins said.
“If you circumvent that, then why bother having standing committees? It limits the debate to just 10 people, and it excludes minority parties that are not represented in the executive committee from debating issues.”
ACDP caucus leader Wayne Thring said the ANC’s actions were irregular because standing committees had an important role to play in informing the outcome of recommendations before they got to exco.
“In this case, committee members were not given the opportunity to investigate and interrogate the reports and ensure that outcomes were best for eThekwini residents. The process was flawed because the reports went straight to exco,” Thring said.
Speaker Logie Naidoo said the reports had been tabled before exco because the council had been on recess until July 13 and standing committee meetings had been scheduled for after that date.
Naidoo said the human settlements and infrastructure committee meeting fell on Nelson Mandela Day (July 18) and all councillors and officials had been occupied with community work on that day.
“The reports went to exco last week and the DA councillors did not object,” he said.
“A decision was then made that those reports be sent to full council.”
Naidoo added that the chairman of the human settlements and infrastructure committee did not object to the reports being tabled before exco and the ANC did not want to delay the projects. - The Mercury