City of Joburg gets Friday deadline to table overdue budget

Gauteng MEC for cooperative governance Lebogang Maile. Picture: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng MEC for cooperative governance Lebogang Maile said: ‘The failure to pass the budget means that the municipality can’t spend any monies until such time that it has approved the budget’.

More than a week after the budget of the City of Joburg was supposed to be used for service delivery and other programmes, it has not been passed.

In terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act of 2003 (MFMA), a council must approve an annual budget for a municipality before the start of its financial year on 1 July. The budget was not voted for or approved in the council, which has yet to sit.

Now the Gauteng executive council (Exco) has taken a decision to intervene in terms of section 139 of the constitution.

The provincial administration has not applied the harsher section of immediately appointing an administrator to run the affairs of the council. Instead, it opted to give the council until Friday.

Exco also directed that until the budget was approved, the municipality must comply with MFMA section 26(4) and (5), as amended, authorising the MEC for finance to approve expenditure.

In a statement, Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo accepted the directives to convene an urgent meeting to approve the budget. He said the city would endeavour to satisfy its obligations and was confident the budget would be passed when the council convened on Thursday.

Gauteng MEC for cooperative governance, urban planning and human settlements Lebogang Maile said Exco had resolved to invoke the provisions of section 139(4), read with section 139(1)(a) of the constitution.

Section 139(4) of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act No 108 of 1996, as amended, compels the relevant provincial executive council to intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure the budget or revenue-raising measures are approved.

The steps included dissolving the municipal council and appointing an administrator, and the executive must approve a temporary budget or revenue-raising measures to provide for the continued functioning of the municipality.

Maile said: “Johannesburg is South Africa’s economic hub and the city with the biggest budget. The failure to pass the budget means that the municipality can’t spend any monies until such time that it has approved the budget.”

It is not clear how much the budget was for 2020-21 financial year waiting approval, but the city received R64.5 billion for the 2019-20 financial year.

Democratic Alliance Joburg Caucus spokesperson, Dalu Cele said the meeting never sat but postponed to allow for further consultation by current administration with all political parties to get their inputs into the budget.  Cele the DA welcomed the City’s Executive followed the rule of law by advising the provincial Exco about the non-approval of the budget on 30 June.

“The DA remains committed to ensuring that the needs of all communities find expression in the 2020/21 budget… The DA continues to serve the people of Johannesburg with pride and to ensure that service delivery takes place and continues to hold the executive accountable,” Cele said.

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