Jun 6, 2011
Cape Town budget sparks threats of litigation ....
It's been less than a week since Patricia de Lille was sworn in as mayor of Cape Town and already the battle lines have been drawn between the ANC and the DA as the city budget skirmish heats up.
The DA won an outright majority in last month's municipal elections.
Yesterday, the ANC moved that approval of the city's budget be postponed.
A special council meeting is to take place tomorrow to consider and approve the budget, but the ANC wants more preparation time.
According to ANC councillor Tony Ehrenreich, new councillors need time to study the budget proposals and fit them to campaign promises.
"As councillors, we can't sign off on a budget without adequate time to study it," Ehrenreich said.
"We need the opportunity to file our responses to the budget so that it aligns with the other responsibilities we have to our constituents."
Yesterday, deputy mayor Ian Neilson said the DA would not consider the ANC's proposal to postpone the budget process.
"The budget has already been through a very extensive process as required by legislation," Neilson said.
"It was tabled in February, it went through a public participation process, it went through portfolio committees, it went back to the previous council after a full consideration.
"We believe there are enough people in the new ANC caucus who were there before. They've had a presentation. I don't think there's any merit in postponing."
The three-year budget, to go into effect on July 1, was due to be passed before the election but was tabled until the new council took office.
"The decision not to approve the budget was considered most appropriate because the incoming council would be afforded an opportunity to revisit the budget policy direction and assess the alignment to the election promises made to the voters of Cape Town," the ANC motion read.
The budget must be passed by June 30.
Ehrenreich said the budget, as it stands, does not address the needs of the poor.
"When we look at the substance of the budget there is not enough allocation of funding to informal settlements," he said.
"There's also not enough consideration given to backyarders."
As the ANC caucus was meeting yesterday, the DA caucus was in session discussing last-minute budget considerations ahead of tomorrow's special meeting of the city council.
Ehrenreich said that legal action might be taken against the DA if it steam-rollered the budget through the council without allowing ANC members time to study all the new adjustments to it.
Neilson said the ANC's threats of legal action were without merit.
"It will be quantity versus quality," ANC chief whip Xolani Sotashe said.
"The types of councillors we have here will raise issues without fear. The DA must respect their official opposition."