Is it pro-poor, or pro-rich?
That is the debate raging in the City Council after Mayor Patricia de Lille announced her R41billion budget this week.
The City of Cape Town boasted on Wednesday it had contained rates and tariff increases in its new budget, reports Cape Times.
But opposition parties have slammed mayor Patricia de Lille’s administration for spending plans they say benefit only a select few.
On Wednesday, De Lille boasted the following:
- Rates across the City on average would increase by 6%
- Refuse collection would increase by 7.92%
- Tariffs for sanitation increase by 9.75%
- Water tariffs increase by 9.75%
- Electricity will on average rise by 7.78%, but domestic users will see only a 6.6% hike.
- Disposal remains unchanged at 12%.
De Lille said the City money would also be spent on easing road congestion; investment in the City’s CCTV camera network; buying new fire engines; rehab centres and three new municipal courts in Wynberg, Blue Downs and Mitchells Plain.
The City’s relief for the poorest households will amount to R1.1bn, while rates rebates will come to R1.4bn.
This means poor households will receive six kilolitres of water for free each month; 4.2 kilolitres for sanitation; 60kWh of electricity free of charge for households using less than 250kWh per month; and 25kWh free of charge for those households which use more than 250kWh but less than 450kWh each month.
De Lille said the City could not install “full-flush” toilets in 82% of informal settlements, as they were built on privately owned land, high-density areas, beneath power lines, landfill sites, along railway lines and road reserves.
ANC caucus leader Xolani Sotashe criticised the budget, saying it was one of “two cities”, one for the poor and one for the rich.
“The only way to measure whether this city is becoming a truly South African city is the change so desired in the material well-being of the previously marginalised, predominantly coloured and African (communities),” said Sotashe.
ANC councillor Bheki Hadebe said while the City had spent millions on the MyCiTi bus rapid transport system, Khayelitsha still had “open drains”.
The ACDP’s Pat Arendse and Ganief Hendricks of Al-Jama’ah said there had been too little consultation with residents.
The Freedom Front Plus’ Andre Fourie said the budget failed to make up for the millions lost on Cape Town Stadium, and the MyCiTi bus project.
But deputy mayor and Mayco member for finance Ian Neilson said Cape Town was the best-run metro, and boasted about the City’s financial performance, saying it had 12 years of unqualified audits and four years of clean audits.
The budget was passed with 127 votes in favour, four against and two abstentions.
The ANC caucus had walked out before the vote.