BCM’S grade five status confirmed
BUFFALO City’s hopes of acquiring an upward grading and more pay for councillors were again dashed when the national government turned down its application this week.
This comes after the municipality, along with the provincial local government department, met with National Treasury, the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department and the Local Government Association in Pretoria on Monday.
BCM applied to the provincial department to become a grade six municipality, but was turned down on the grounds of its budget and income revenue collection.
For a council to have grade six status, it should have a total income of more than R2.1-billion with an overall budget of at least R15-billion.
BCM’S income stands at about R1.9-billion with a budget of only R3.7-billion.
requirements, BCM went ahead to pay out about R12-million extra backdated to its councillors a fortnight ago without approval from local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane.
Speaking at a Bhisho Legislature portfolio committee meeting yesterday, Qoboshiyane announced that his department’s observation that BCM did not meet grade six status requirements was upheld by the national government.
“Our interpretation has been validated and our interpretation maintains correctness,” he said.
Qoboshiyane said he was satisfied with the outcome of Monday’s meeting.
“I think BCM will take a welcome attitude in the interpretation of what we believe is total municipal income in terms of points when it comes to upper limits and grading of a municipality.
“Our interpretation is still relevant and has been sustained,” he said.
Qoboshiyane added the next step was to clarify the matter to councillors.
“We have a duty to go and to clarify this issue with the total community of councillors of BCM so we can see how to manage situations like this in future.”
He said his department would continue to provide support to BCM as laid down in the constitution.
“Our interest is to give more support to BCM to navigate this difficult subject much more easily,” he said.
The African Independent Congress’s Mandla Galo said he wanted to know when the BCM council would repay the salaries.
“We agreed councillors must pay back the taxpayers’ money. When is that going to happen,” Galo asked.
Acting committee chairman Mninawa Nyusile said repayment of the unauthorised increases was non-negotiable.
“They must pay back the taxpayers’ money. They do not qualify to get such money,” Nyusile said.
A mechanism had to be found to deal with councils hell-bent on defying the department as BCM had done, he added.
“We must find a way of addressing that burden because it reflects badly on municipalities and reflects badly on the credibility of the department,” he said.
Qoboshiyane said he would officially report to the legislature about BCM’S irregular expenditure as the law required and the metro had to recover the irregular payments.
“We hope cool heads will prevail to administer and correct the wrongs,” he said, referring to BCM’S decision to unilaterally change its grading.
Last week the department threatened to take the municipality to court if it did not rescind its decision to change its grading and did not recoup the costs incurred as a result of the controversial move.
“We don’t want to use the big brother approach or a victor-triumph arrangement,” Qoboshiyane said. — mayibongwem@dispatch.