Opposition accuse City of Joburg of bullying

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IOL Mmusi MaimaneETCH INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - The City of Joburg, in an unprecedented move, on Sunday prevented the DA and other opposition parties from debating the city’s R47 billion 2014/15 budget before approving it.

This resulted in the DA staging a walkout in protest, stating that it was in the interest of millions of Joburg residents that the budget be debated before being approved.

The walkout left the sitting with no quorum as many ANC councillors were absent.

An adjournment was called and the ANC hastily summoned absent members to make up the numbers, after which the budget was approved with the support of the IFP.

DA councillor Victor Penning accused the council speaker Connie Bapela of “riding roughshod over opposition parties and denying residents of the city their right to representation on the over budget”.

“Councillor Bapela put the cart before the horse when she ruled that the council should vote to pass the full operational and capital expenditure budget before she had allowed debate on critical items in the House.

“We objected so strongly to the speaker’s ruling that we left the council chamber in protest. In a city where residents’ expenses are higher than their income, the proposed above-inflationary tariff and rates increases are, quite simply unacceptable,” Penning said.

He added there was also a need for debate on other critical issues affecting residents of Joburg. Residents could be properly represented only when debates were allowed to proceed.

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