Few participate in draft City of Cape Town budget
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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town received an underwhelming number of participants on its proposed budget for the 2021/22 financial year.
The municipality announced that it received less than 2 000 comments from the public, a disappointing turnout given the population it serves.
The City concluded its public participation process on the draft budget two weeks ago and the budget will be tabled later this month. The City says engagements took place with more than 230 ward-based community representatives through face-to-face and digital meetings.
Lobby group STOP CcCT believes the low turnout is due to people losing trust in the municipal government.
“Some doubt the CoCT figures, including me,” said STOP CoCT founder Mike Heyns. “Some are tired of complaining and nothing gets done. Some believe their vote will suffice. It is indeed sad if the figure of 2 000 is true. The question is though, they refer to official comments. We need to understand what they mean by ’official’. Not many people on the ground have access to the platforms available.”
Peter Williamson said the silence by residents on such matters should worry the municipality.
“People have been battered down by both CoCT and Covid-19. They don’t trust any authority or so-called public participation as the authorities are notorious for ignoring the voice of the people who pay their salaries. The silence is grounds for fear as anger is creeping in across the board.”
The City’s Mayco member for Finance, Ian Neilson, said all formally submitted comments that were received are being considered.
“The final budget will be tabled to council for approval later this month. This follows extensive communication and engagement on the tabled budget. Engagements took place with more than 230 ward-based community representatives across the metro through a combination of face-to-face and digital meetings.”
He admitted that Covid-19 had an impact on public participation but said they are pleased with the response.
“Although Covid-19 again had an impact on the public participation process, the City is pleased with the good response and thanks all community representatives, councillors and residents for taking part.”
The proposed budget includes R3.4 billion available to help qualifying residents with rates and services relief, R8.4bn to help boost the local economy and savings realised of approximately R460 million in staffing and contracting services.
Political science professor at the University of Stellenbosch, Amanda Gouws, said only a few people understand budgets.
“I think only a minority of people understand budgets. Unless service delivery is directly related to the budget so that people can understand how the budget will affect them, they are not that interested.
“We should also know how the call was put out. Was it an ad in a newspaper? Or was it on Twitter and Facebook etc? It is a minority of people who read newspapers. Did people have to go to their municipal buildings to see the budget (in my town we had to do that)? That is inconvenient and only a small number of people will look at it. So, if we make it easy for people to comment, more people will do so.”