The North West Treasury Department has withheld the equitable share of the Potchefstroom-based JB Marks Local Municipality. The equitable share, which amounts to more than R120-million, was not released because the municipality is alleged to have not complied with the Municipal Finance Management Act when it approved the budget for 2020/2021 financial year.
The JB Marks municipality failed to approve its annual budget before June 30, 2020 as prescribed by law. However, a council meeting was then convened on July 3, 2020 for the purpose of approving the budget, and still the meeting could not agree on the matter.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in council wanted to be supplied with certain information before the budget could be approved and apparently, it was then agreed that the information will be availed within 14 days.
According to the DA, they then agreed that the budget be provisionally approved.
DA councillor Hans-Jurie Moolman is accusing the municipal manager of changing the resolution of the council and allegedly submitting a document to the Treasury which indicated that the budget had been approved.
Moolman says, “What was submitted to the provincial Treasury or other state departments to confirm that the budget was approved as it stated in the document. We will press charges because it is not a true reflection of what this council resolved. We’ve got verbatim, we have recorded all the meetings and we will also present that to the police so that they can easily verify who changed the resolution.”
EFF to challenge the matter
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) provincial secretary Papiki Babuile says they’ll also challenge the matter
Babulile says, “As the EFF, we will then make sure that the municipal manager who goes around lying about the resolution of the council, we will have to take action and there should be consequences, and the consequences will be us putting a motion of no confidence against him. We will also be interacting with our legal team who will advise us on a way forward.”
Opposition parties in JB Marks municipality threaten court action
Independent councillor at the municipality David Kham says he maintains that the budget was legally approved.
Kham says, “I view the position of the council to have approved the budget. What remains now is that politics are at play pursued by the DA and a demoralised group of the ANC councillors who are in my view also protagonists of Section 139. We are not part of these games, we are prepared if this matter comes to a push, if we are to go to court, we will be on the side of the community to say the right thing is to say the budget is approved.”
JB Marks municipal Speaker Elias Mogoeemang says, “The budget has been approved for 2020/2021, although the DA put forward a proposal that they are not in support, provided what they want. The very same issue was seconded by the Mayor and Councillor Calvin Johnson and there was no objection.”
However, the provincial Treasury Department has a different view.
Departmental head Ndlela Kunene says the municipal budget cannot be approved conditionally.
Kunene says, “Based on what we have it purports that the municipality’s budget was approved but it had conditions that had to be met. The budget must be approved without conditions. The provision is that it should be approved, there should not be any conditionality, that is how it is. Obviously non-compliance to the approved constitutes gross non-compliance to the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and as a result of that, I think that it also has an impact on the municipality. That is why their equitable share has not been transferred.”
The ANC in the province says it’s disturbed by the developments in the JB Marks Municipality.
ANC provincial spokesperson Kenny Morolong says, “The reports at the disposal of the Interim Regional Committee and the Interim Provincial Committee suggest that the municipality failed to comply with the provision of the Municipal Finance Management Act by approving the annual budget. We have also learned that we have a deeply divided ANC caucus and our expectation is that the relevant MEC for Finance and MEC for Cooperative Governance will appropriately intervene in relation to the powers of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”
Both the MECs for Finance and Co-operative Governance are said to be in the process of arranging a meeting with the municipal council to address the matter.