OUTA: Re-do Govan Mbeki’s budget & IDP
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has sent a letter of demand to Govan Mbeki Local Municipality, the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, as well as the national departments of Treasury and CoGTA, demanding that they review and set aside the council resolution of 29 May approving the updated Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and 2019/20 budget.
OUTA demands that the public participation process be restarted to ensure proper community participation.
Earlier OUTA wrote to the municipal manager in this regard, pointing out that the budget was adopted even though the period for public comment was supposed to run for another six days, which means the legally required public participation process was flawed. OUTA also pointed out that financial regulations were flouted in the budget.
OUTA wants the council’s resolution adopting the budget and IDP to be set aside and the process restarted to allow for proper public consultation, saying it will take the matter to court if this is not done.
Concerns about the budget include: the deficit of R415m; an additional R100m for salaries, on top of the R275m for contracted services; and the flouting of the Municipal Finance Management Act on budget requirements.
It is virtually impossible to draw up a budget for 2019/20 based on Govan Mbeki’s financial performance in 2018/19. A municipality that does not even have a cashbook is on a hiding to nothing. The municipality received a disclaimer of opinion from the Auditor-General for the 2017/18 financial year, an audit opinion that was even worse than the two previous qualified audit opinions.
Michael Holenstein, manager of OUTA’s Local Government Division, says that the organisation has attempted, on numerous occasions, to engage with the Govan Mbeki executive and political office bearers. These requests fell on deaf ears which indicates the contempt with which community stakeholders are treated.
“This is unacceptable and a clear indication that the municipality is not interested in the public’s input and concerns. This budget was hidden from public view and makes no attempt to acknowledge the law or the municipality’s financial realities,” says Holenstein.