A walk out by the ANC caucus this afternoon insured that the Endumeni Council missed the first deadline of May 31 to pass the 2018/19 budget.
Although the two executive committee members, Dr Sandy Bedassi (DA) and Thulani Mahaye (ANC), earlier agreed that incarcerated Mayor, Richard Mbatha, could delegate his exco powers to Dr Bedassi, the later full Council meeting, where the budget should have been passed, disintegrated.
Watch interchange here in the Council:
Earlier, Councillor Mahaye voiced his objections to ‘someone in custody who can still write a letter and dictate who will be Mayor’. Officials from the KZN Department of Local Governance and Traditional Affairs, COGTA, were present and there was a break while a legal opinion on the issue was sought.
COGTA’s legal head in Pietermaritzburg confirmed that in terms of legislation, with the Mayor being absent for whatever reason, and with there being no Deputy Mayor in Endumeni, the absent Mayor could nominate an exco member to fulfill his duties – in this case Dr Bedassi.
Councillor Mahaye was not entirely convinced but went along with the proposal that saw Dr Bedassi now acting Mayor. The 2018/10 budget and Integrated Development Plan, IDP, was then discussed and recommended that Council pass the budget with the provisos that the new posts envisaged be put on ice until the organigram of the municipality could be discussed. Both exco Councillors also expressed concern that the ballooning salary bill accounts for around 40% of the budget expenditure.
That dealt with, the rest of the Councillors arrived to pass the budget. This never happened as the ANC Councillors were adamant that they could not accept Mayor Mbatha’s letter ‘from behind bars’ supporting Doctor Bedassi as Mayor, nor could they support the budget and IDP as Councillor S Mdluli alleged that 60% of voters in Endumeni had not been given an opportunity to give input into the process.
Speaker Bongiwe Mbatha-Makhathin tried to make progress with the meeting to pass the budget but the five ANC Councillors (one Councillor was absent) walked out, rendering the meeting inquorated. The Speaker said he was very disappointed that the ANC chose to walk out and said another meeting would be scheduled for Tuesday to pass the budget.
Councillor Anthon Raubenheimer of the DA said he found it strange that Councillor Mahaye had participated in the exco meeting earlier, had agreed for De Bedassi to act as Mayor and made recommendations on the budget prior to it being passed but suddenly changed his tune in the full Council meeting.
Asked to comment after the meeting, Councillor Mahaye told the Courier that ‘the ANC was not one Councillor but it was a caucus decision to object to the budget’.