Pretoria - ActionSA’s national chairperson Michael Beaumont has defended the party’s call for the creation of a deputy mayor’s position in the City of Tshwane, amid criticism that the municipality could not afford it.
Critics have hit out at the party’s push to have a deputy mayor while siding with municipal workers demanding salary increases.
Some critics, including the ANC in the council, have questioned how the cash-strapped municipality could afford to establish a deputy mayoral position while struggling to honour its salary agreements with workers.
ANC chief whip in Tshwane, Aaron Maluleke, said during a council sitting last week that his party had advised mayor Cilliers Brink to put on hold the process to install a deputy mayor because the metro was not in a financial position to do so.
But Beaumont told the Pretoria News yesterday that a line had to be drawn between the City’s handling of workers’ salary agreements and its need to have a deputy mayor.
“ActionSA believes these are two separate matters and yet, as a matter of fact, the mishandling of the strike reveals the need to mitigate against the shortsightedness that has been on display in the mishandling of this strike.
“The establishment of a deputy mayor will be essential to achieve this through depending on the principles of co-governance, as it would have been (able) to prevent the governance failures of the Kratos proposal and the Rooiwal wastewater treatment disaster,” he said.
He was referring to a controversial proposal relating to an unsolicited bid from the Kratos consortium seeking to lease two of Tshwane’s power stations, while Rooiwal has been linked to the deadly cholera outbreak in nearby Hammanskraal earlier this year.
Beaumont said the multiparty coalition had resolved to establish the position and for ActionSA to provide the candidate, in December 2021.
“The reality is that this matter should not be delayed any further in light of serious governance failures that should have been avoided. ActionSA, like the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, contends that the R45 billion City of Tshwane can afford salary increases – even if they are lesser percentages – arising from a new negotiated deal to achieve stability in the City.
“As a matter of fact, the deferral of these increases to the Labour Appeals Court, where they will wait for years to be resolved, produces a contingent liability which threatens the finances of the City should the City lose the case and suddenly be responsible for two years of unpaid increases becoming due with backpay. The question really should be if the City can afford not to negotiate a new deal which prevents this risk.”
The cost of a deputy mayor, Beaumont said, would be negligible, especially since the appointee would be drawn from the existing pool of members of the mayoral committee.
“A mature conversation about the finances of the City of Tshwane will recognise that the City must maintain stable labour relations by either honouring or renegotiating salary agreements. It will similarly recognise the imperative of deepening co-governance through a deputy mayor and it would consider the costs of the strike continuing at the expense of residents and service delivery,” he said.