Solly Msimanga. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Solly Msimanga. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The DA in Tshwane is confident its budget will pass when it is voted on next week. Mayor Solly Msimanga delivered his first budget address on Thursday in the capital city, saying the budget is a demonstration of the new government’s commitment to making Tshwane "a prosperous hub of opportunity, safety and sustainability".

The approval of the budget is a crucial test for the new coalition government.

The Municipal Finance Management Act stipulates that if a municipal council fails to approve an annual budget, it must vote on the budget again within seven days of failing to approve the budget. This process must be repeated until a budget is passed. Placing a municipality under administration is the most extreme consequence of not passing the budget by the first day of the budget year.

The vote on the budget will coincide with the debate on the budget on May 25.

The EFF voted with opposition parties in August 2016 to remove the ANC from power after they lost their majority support in the metro.

Mayoral spokesman Sam Mgobozi said they are confident that the budget speech and the budget for the 2017-18 financial year addresses all the unique concerns raised by the people of Tshwane during the processes of the draft budget, as well the Integrated Development Plan.

During his address, Msimanga pointed out what the council had inherited from the ANC, which included a deficit in excess of R2bn.

Msimanga told journalists after his address that this is the first budget in which promises made before the elections will be kept. It was the first time Tshwane’s mayor was allowed to speak by the ANC, who is in the opposition benches since losing power in the local municipal elections in 2016.

Msimanga was only interrupted once, a contrast to previous council meetings which have descended into chaos.

He announced that R1.3bn has been set aside for maintenance and that this will be the backbone of the city’s developmental agenda: "This will also serve to catalyse economic activity in ‘township’ economies by creating a more conducive business environment through the delivery of expanded and reliable services and transport links."

Msimanga said the city currently has 133 informal settlements the majority of which have no access to services, or receive only rudimentary basic services. The city will prioritise the upgrading of the services delivered to informal settlements and will start with formalising seven informal settlements, under project Tirane, which will include water on stands and sewerage systems with flush toilets after undertaking a sanitation audit.

He also announced that Tshwane will prioritise an overhaul of its billing system over the next five years to ensure businesses and residents are billed correctly, and make the cost of doing business cheaper.

Mapiti Matsena, ANC leader in the council, criticised the budget saying it is not to the benefit of the majority of Tshwane’s residents.

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