City of Tshwane’s Peter Sutton delivers budget speech virtually after EFF disrupts physical sitting
The DA says it plans to file criminal charges against the EFF, after the party violently disrupted the City of Tshwane’s budget speech sitting.
Peter Sutton, the City of Tshwane’s MMC for Finance, finally delivered his budget speech on Friday, 20 May — albeit virtually. This was after the municipality’s budget speech sitting was disrupted by rowdy EFF councillors the previous day.
On Thursday, 19 May, EFF councillors demanded the insourcing of security guards and other workers. In videos circulated on social media, recalcitrant EFF councillors can be seen storming into the chambers and turning chairs upside down before confronting council speaker Dr Murunwa Makwarela, shoving him and taking documents out of his hands.
During the disruption, EFF councillors ripped out electronics and sound system devices, making sure that Makwarela could not communicate with the councillors in the chambers. The meeting was adjourned and Makwarela announced later that it would be held online the following day.
Jacqui Uys, chair of the DA Tshwane caucus, said the EFF had breached a high court interdict issued on 28 March this year. The interdict cites the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and acting City manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng as first and second applicants, respectively, with the EFF as the respondent.
It declared an EFF march to the municipal offices illegal and restrained the party from performing any act of destruction on City of Tshwane property, and any other private or public property, or from committing acts of intimidation towards any of the city’s employees or patrons.
The interdict also ordered the police to prevent the EFF from encouraging or motivating City of Tshwane workers from participating in their illegal and unlawful march scheduled for 28 March.
“The Democratic Alliance will lodge a criminal complaint against EFF councillors following their violent and aggressive behaviour towards city officials, council members and the destruction and vandalising of city property,” said Uys.
“EFF councillors destroyed council property, ripped out electronics, and then proceeded to throw tables and chairs to disrupt [the] meeting. The DA condemns these violent actions that undermine and threaten our democratic processes,’’ she said.
‘Victims of their own fire’
Jaki Seroke, spokesperson for the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, also condemned the EFF’s violent behaviour: “The EFF voted for Randall Williams to be the mayor of Tshwane. The DA is not listening to them and now they cause havoc as a way to get heard. They are victims of their own fire.”
Dennis Bloom, spokesperson for the Congress of the People (Cope), said: “Cope condemns the hooligan behaviour of people who are supposed to be public representatives. The disruptive councillors must know that they are being paid with taxpayers’ money and must desist from disrupting proceedings in the council chambers.’’
The EFF has not responded to queries regarding the behaviour of its members inside the council chambers. At the time of writing, neither ActionSA nor the ANC had condemned the EFF’s behaviour.
In a statement, the EFF Tshwane said the DA’s plan to lay criminal charges was “ill-conceived” and “is of no consequence”. The party claimed its councillors were defending themselves from members of a private security company.
“Categorically, the EFF councillors did not engage in any action of malicious damage to property,” it said.
Addressing EFF supporters outside the City chambers after the rumpus on Thursday, EFF Tshwane leader Obakeng Ramabodu said the party wanted the 2021 wage increase agreement between the City of Tshwane and its workers to be implemented. He stressed that a budget that did not include the insourcing of all people performing work for the City was a “sell-out budget”.
Sutton said insourcing the workers would add an R1-billion burden to the City’s coffers. “The EFF can’t be allowed to impose its policies on the City of Tshwane,’’ he said.
Makwarela denied the budget speech meeting had been moved online because of fears that the EFF would cause further disruptions at an in-person event.
“We are not afraid, we are a government,” he said. “It’s costly to host a council sitting. Councillors have to travel from far places and others use public transport. To curtail the costs, it’s therefore prudent to also have online meetings.”
The City’s total budget is R44.9-billion, with R42.1-billion allocated to the operating budget and R2.8-billion to capital infrastructure.
“The aim of the budget is to put the interests and needs of our residents at the forefront of our work in the City of Tshwane,’’ Sutton said.
Property rates will increase by 6% and refuse removal will also increase by 6%. Electricity tariffs will increase by 7.47% and water tariffs will go up by 9%.
Tshwane Emergency Services will receive R986-million. The Tshwane Metro Police Department will receive R2.8-billion. The City’s Human Settlements Department will be given R411-million for its capital projects and R970-million for its operational expenditure. The City’s Expanded Public Works Programme will receive R72.9-million; R10-million will be spent on the establishment of an anti-copper theft unit and R68-million will go towards the establishment of a highly skilled, multidisciplinary revenue collection team.
The installation of prepaid meters in the city will cost R57-million. The Marabastad Trading and Marketing stalls will receive a boost of R7-million. Phase 1 of the ongoing Rooiwaal Water Treatment Plant will receive R40-million. The Tshwane Fresh Produce Market will be allotted R18-million.
Other salient points of the budget are the refurbishment of the Wapadrand electricity substation, to the tune of R35-million. The Mooikloof substation will be refurbished for R30-million.
The restoration of vandalised Wi-Fi connections will cost the City R23-million. The Rosslyn and Pyramid substations will be refurbished for R14-million and R25-million, respectively, while Line 2B in Lynnwood will be constructed for R120-million. DM