Pretoria - The City of Tshwane is at risk of being put under administration again.
After the metro council failed to pass the draft budget, Gauteng Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mzi Khumalo indicated his department could intervene via relevant legislation.
Possible intervention by the provincial government comes after the council failed to pass an adjustment budget for 2022/23 on Friday at the continuation of a special council sitting at Tshwane House.
In 2019, the Gauteng provincial government dissolved the city council and put the municipality under administration in line with Section 139 of the Constitution.
At the time, the provincial government cited poor service delivery and maladministration as some of the motivating factors for taking charge of the city’s administration.
The decision was subsequently overturned by the Constitutional Court.
On Friday, Khumalo expressed deep concern about the municipal council’s failure to pass an adjustment budget notwithstanding the extension it was granted until April 14 by Finance MEC Jacob Mamabolo.
Khumalo’s spokesperson, Kgapa Mabusela, said council’s failure meant the provision of basic services to residents may be adversely affected.
“MEC Khumalo will engage with the MEC for Finance to establish the most appropriate course of action within the ambit of the Constitution and other relevant legislation that the province can take to remedy the situation,” he said.
Council’s failure to pass the budget comes after the City had pleaded twice with the Treasury for an extension to pass the budget, after the council also missed its February 28 deadline due to political instability.
Efforts by the multiparty coalition partners in Tshwane to pass a draft adjustment budget fell flat because they were short of one vote to achieve their goal. They had banked on sole GOOD political party councillor Sarah Mabotja to vote in favour of the budget, but she turned her back on them.
At least 108 votes were required to pass the adjustment budget, but the coalition made up of the DA, ActionSA, FF-plus, IFP and ACDP only had 107. One of the DA councillors, Francois Bekker, resigned recently and on Friday FF-Plus councillor, Grandi Theunissen, was absent due to illness.
Mabotja said her party wanted the coalition to include in the adjustment budget issues raised in an adverse audit report issued by the auditor-general early this year in return for its vote.
Stinging criticism against the budget were also made by the ANC and EFF, which believed it put service delivery in townships on the backburner while prioritising affluent areas. Both parties registered dissenting votes to the budget.
Finance MMC Peter Sutton said the adjustment budget was a budget that was approved last year.
The city’s financial situation showed that it had failed to collect revenues in line with its last year’s projections.
Sutton said: “That is the major problem we face in the city at the moment. We are not collecting. We are not increasing our revenue base. That puts severe pressure on all aspects of liquidity; our liquidity ratio is in the negative.”
Executive Mayor Cilliers Brink expressed concern that there were deliberate attempts to create conditions to place Tshwane under administration. This was after speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana on Thursday adjourned council before tabling of the adjustment budget, citing a standing council agreement that meetings should not go beyond 5pm.
Brink said failure to pass a budget would create the pretext for the Gauteng provincial government to intervene in Tshwane.
“I am convinced that, as in the past, such ‘intervention’ will serve an ulterior political purpose and prove disastrous for service delivery and financial management in the capital city.”