Here’s how metro costs can be cut

I AM submitting this letter to inform the ratepayers and all the residents of this metro that there is a very simple solution to our metro’s cash woes (“City choked by cash woes”, The Herald, June 15 and “Ratepayers see red after meeting”, The Herald, June 16).

 As you know, mayor Zanoxolo Wayile undertook to consult all the opposition parties in council, so we could discuss and provide our suggestions for the budget. On June 9, he did meet us and we were subjected to a 80-minute presentation by him.

At the conclusion, we asked when could we discuss our input, to which he replied he would try and meet us on June 14. As we are still awaiting this opportunity and time is running out, as the budget must be adopted before June 30, we were forced to submit our input in writing, or not at all.

 The mayor is not committed to proper public consultation and his earlier statements to this effect are false.

However, I was not going to let him and his administration accuse us of not making a constructive input to the budget, hence I submitted the DA’s input in writing to him, on June 15.

 I informed the mayor we could not support the proposed rates and tariff increases as they were totally unaffordable and would certainly lead to further unemployment. They might even tempt certain ratepayers to withhold their payments, which could very well lead to the municipality being placed under administration.

 We suggest rates and tariff increases should not exceed 8% except for electricity which should not be more than 20,38%. This can be achieved if there is the political will to implement the following suggestions:

ýThe current draft budget does not address deficiencies such as the poor productivity in the traffic department where fines income should already be in excess of R60-million. Furthermore, we can increase revenue if we appoint more driver’s licence testing officers and at the same time reduce the long waiting period.

ýWith the current cash crisis we have to reduce our expenditure and this can be done by reviewing the organogram and removing some non-essential positions, such as the chief whip and all his staff (costing R3.3-million), 50% of the communications department, 50% of the legal division, certain positions from the mayor’s office (for example the strategic advisor at a salary of R958788 per annum), manager media liaison, chief of staff, HIV/Aids co-ordinator, and more in his office and throughout the organisation.

ýExpenditure can be further reduced by putting a stop to the use of private and hired vehicles, in the various directorates and addressing the causes of this. The capacity and the efficiency of the automotive workshop along with the ageing fleet need urgent attention.

No employee who receives a locomotion allowance should be allowed to use a municipal vehicle.

ýThe operational efficiency work plan must be implemented across the board with no exceptions.

ýThe unfunded mandates affecting public health and the libraries requires immediate attention at senior political level.

ýThe municipal tender process should be open and transparent with an emphasis on allocating tenders to the most cost-effective and competent tenderers.

ýAn urgent audit needs to be undertaken of unnecessary use of the private sector to provide municipal accommodation in premises far beyond their requirement, such as the communications department in Kwantu Towers.

ýThe issue and use of mobile phones to be restricted to staff members that need them in their operational capacity.

ýA restriction on the use of private consultants by directorates who have the staff to do the work themselves. If staff cannot do this work, they should not have been appointed in the first place and they should be relieved of their duties, such as the legal department.

ýThere are a number of property leases that have or are about to expire. These must be reviewed and amended to market-related rentals.

 The simple solution to the problems of this metro is to have Nceba Faku removed as the chairperson of the ANC’s regional executive committee, as his ongoing interference is crippling the municipality and undermining the efforts of the mayor and those who are committed to bring stability to it. While it is highly unlikely that the ANC will do as suggested, the immediate release of the Kabuso report may very well achieve this objective and begin to bring stabilisation of the administration.

It is already well known that Faku is wanting to appoint Dr Sithembele Vatala as the new municipal manager, with Roland Williams as a deputy and that various ex-ANC councillors are in line to be appointed to lucrative administrative positions within the municipality.

 I therefore call on MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane to release the Kabuso report immediately to show us all that the ANC is prepared to deal with fraud, corruption and maladministration. This will pave the way to allow the mayor to reconsider the budget to a level which could make it acceptable to the ratepayers and thereby avoid a costly legal battle which could very well result in this municipality being placed under administration and thereby rendering all 120 councillors unemployed.

 In conclusion, should this municipality be placed under administration, all 48 DA councillors will remain available to the residents and they will continue to perform their duties wherever possible.

Leon de Villiers, DA leader in the metro council and a member of the budget and treasury committee for the past 11 years

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