Daily Dispatch

Deputy mayor balks at R96.7m budget for BCM’s ‘no-results’ developmen­t agency

- MAMELA NDAMASE COUNCIL REPORTER mamelan@dispatch.co.za

A budget allocation of R96.7m to the Buffalo City Metro Developmen­t Agency (BCMDA) has left ANC councillor­s divided, with some saying the entity had nothing to show despite the millions it received every year.

The allocation came under scrutiny on Wednesday when mayor Xola Pakati tabled the metro’s plans for the 20192020 financial year which starts on July 1.

BCMDA was formed in 2016 and is attached to the metro’s department of economic developmen­t and agencies.

Deputy mayor Zoliswa Matana distanced herself from approving R400m to BCMDA between 2019 and 2022.

The agency will receive R136.8m in 2020-21 and R166.5m in 2021-22.

“I won’t agree with this amount to BCMDA as I adopt the budget because it does not assist us,” she said.

“We requested the office of the city manager to consider the amount to BCMDA to take the amount to LED [economic developmen­t].

“We were very clear about that but there is an element in this council, and that we are being undermined as councillor­s,” she added.

Matana said BCM had “not yet seen what has been implemente­d” with the money.

She accused city manager Andile Sihlahla and his team of underminin­g politician­s.

When the Dispatch asked BCMDA spokespers­on Oyama Makalima what they had achieved, he said the implementa­tion of projects, including the revamping of the East London beachfront and Water World, were delayed by setting up systems in line with the national Treasury’s infrastruc­ture and rollout processes.

“We have been setting up working ground. We could not start projects without environmen­tal assessment­s being done. We are now done with evaluating the tender bids and we asked for some funding to be rolled over to the next financial year because we were setting things up.

“That money has not been lost and we are ready to start work in July,” he said.

Asked about the long-standing sleepersit­e project in the CBD-Quigney area, Makalima said: “BCMDA is still pursuing the project but we are looking for a suitable funding model as that project is expensive.”

BCM’s portfolio head for economic developmen­t and agencies, Mzwandile Vaaiboom, said he could not say why the agency had been allocated more money than his department.

“There is nothing to show yet from BCMDA. We need a meeting with them to see how far they are and get business plans from them. They have also been delayed by land release problems,” said Vaaiboom, adding his department had a total of R53m (capital and operating projects) for the next financial year.

Pakati’s spokespers­on, Luzuko Buku, denied BCMDA had been allocated more than its mother department, but gave no figures.

We need a meeting with them to see how far they are and get business plans from them

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