Mayco member for Finance Ian Neilson said the final budget will be tabled to the council for approval later this month. File picture: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus
Mayco member for Finance Ian Neilson said the final budget will be tabled to the council for approval later this month. File picture: Marvin Charles/Cape Argus

Capetonians’ lack of participation in draft budget 'reflects low trust in City'

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published May 10, 2021

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Cape Town - Lobby group STOP COCT has said the City of Cape Town receiving just under 2 000 comments on its 2021/22 draft budget underlines how out of touch it was with those affected by the tariff increases in the budget.

The City concluded its public participation process on the draft budget last week. Engagements took place with more than 230 ward-based community representatives through face-to-face and digital meetings.

Mayco member for Finance Ian Neilson said the final budget will be tabled to the council for approval later this month. He said although Covid-19 had impacted on the participation process, the City was pleased with the response.

Sandra Dickson from STOP COCT said they received reports of some of the meetings being attended by under 20 people, while many residents reported having no knowledge of these meetings. Dickson said this was a reflection of the low level of trust City had with the community and how it chose to exclude the people it should serve.

“STOP COCT launched a website dedicated to make it easier for ratepayers to submit their comments on the budget, three days before the closing date of May 3, 2021, and in these three days STOP COCT managed to produce more than 25% of the total comments received by City.

“This is testimony to the City failing to communicate effectively with its citizens. The City’s website is cumbersome, and finding the correct section where public participation is buried is not for those with inadequate grasp of the City’s website,” Dickinson said.

“This underlines that the City caters for the privileged and blatantly ignores the majority of people they are supposed to serve,” she said.

CapeXit operational director Des Palm said the City’s complacency with the small number of comments about the budget was disturbing but not unexpected.

“The residents of the metro know from experience that the public participation invites from the City are merely lip-service exercises, and there is yet to be one issue proven to have been subjected to the will of the people.

“Residents are not commenting, not because they approve the budget (in fact, very far from it), but because they know it will be of no use.

“It will bode well for the provincial government to start taking note of the people who voted them into power, as ignoring them may prove to be very detrimental,” he said.

Ratepayer and businessman Thor Pederson said the City should break down the budget into 12 pieces with details, and request comment on one piece a month.

Cape Argus

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