THE MOVE to grant salary adjustments and performance bonuses to the tune of R1 billion to councillors, senior managers and staff at eThekwini Metro is now being challenged in court.
The Democratic Alliance, the official opposition in the biggest municipality in KwaZulu Natal, is seeking court intervention, saying the 2020/21 budget did not fulfil public participation requirements.
Last week in a virtual meeting, the eThekwini Council approved the R 53. 3 billion budget.
Of the amount, R6.9 billion is set aside for capital budget while R45.4 billion is reserved for operating budget.
Now, the DA says this move must be overturned and the council sitting be reconvened.
“Yes, I can confirm that we have served court papers on eThekwini Municipality. The matter stems from the 29 May budget meeting and we believe that the process to approve the budget was illegal and flawed,” Nicole Graham, party caucus leader in the metro told Inside Metros this week.
The court papers cite KZN Cooperative Governance MEC Sipho Hlomuka, municipal speaker Weziwe Thusi and acting municipal manager Sipho Cele as respondents.
“The relief sought is effectively an interdict to prevent the budget from being implemented. We are also calling for the meeting to be held again following the law before 1 July implementation date,” added Graham.
At the heart of DA’s case is that their councillors were blocked from making their views heard after being muted in the virtual council meeting. The party also claims the live stream to make the budget tabling open to the public was taken down and as such the meeting did not meet public participation criteria.
The IFP also raised its reservations about the budget.
“Of crucial importance to us is the inadequate public participation and engagements of citizens during the budget process. It is as if the ANC wanted to approve the budget at all costs despite the implications this might have on the City moving forward,” said Mdu Nkosi, IFP caucus leader.
However, the eThekwini Metro defended the passing of the budget, saying aggrieved parties had internal avenues in which to voice their displeasure.
“They can write to the speaker’s office requesting for her immediate intervention instead of resorting to court. The budget as you know it is not unilaterally decided upon by council alone, it will still be sent to the department of Cogta who will have the final say whether it goes ahead or if it’s needs revision,” said municipal spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela.
He confirmed that the city had received court papers from the DA, saying it was the view of the city that they met the criteria for the budget approval.
(Compiled by Inside Metros staff)