Despite a tense sitting in which insults were exchanged between ANC councillor Geoff Makhubo and MMC for finance Funzela Ngobeni, political parties agreed on Tuesday to pass Mayor Herman Mashaba’s R59-billion City of Joburg budget.
But while the operational budget and the capital expenditure budget, as well as the integrated development plan, managed to make it through because of the EFF- and DA-led coalition voting in its favour, the EFF did exercise their power as Joburg’s kingmakers by abstaining on a vote involving tariff increases, posing a threat to Mayor Herman Mashaba’s proposed revenue plan.
Twenty-five EFF councillors abstained from the vote on the tariff increases, leading to the DA’s coalition receiving 105 of the votes in council, while the ANC and opposition parties received 113.
While the EFF propelled Mashaba to victory in 2016, the fragile EFF and DA coalition in the City has been tested several times, most recently by Mashaba’s dismissal of Inkatha Freedom Party MMC Mzobanzi Ntuli last week.
The EFF’s decision to abstain could create a funding gap in the coming financial year. The EFF has vowed to resist any increase to rates. Mashaba, however, has expressed confidence that he could negotiate an end to the disagreement.
The DA’s coalition now has until the end of June to get the other parties in the metro to agree on budget-related issues.