Talk of the Town

Mayor’s car debated; book famine judgment

- This week’s editorial by TK Mtiki and Sue Maclennan

The mayor will be downgradin­g her wheels because the R700,000 limit placed on spending on a mayoral vehicle does not take into account the 20% increase in the cost of the vehicle she currently drives.

Last week’s special council meeting to deliberate on what to spend on the official car was informed that the current mayoral vehicle was bought five years ago.

However, it has become unreliable with numerous mechanical problems.

The procuremen­t of vehicles for public office bearers is governed by the Municipal Cost Containmen­t regulation­s, gazetted in 2019 by then finance minister Tito Mboweni.

The DA argued that a lot had happened in the market between 2016 and 2022, and that a mayoral car cheaper than R700,000 should be purchased.

In his report for the agenda, the municipal manager noted that as an indicator, the price of a vehicle similar to the previously acquired car for the mayor, a base Audi 4x4 Q5, had increased by almost 20% since the 2019 cost containmen­t regulation­s were gazetted.

Six council members voted against buying a mayoral vehicle worth R700,000, while nine voted in favour.

The Municipal Finance Management Act of 2003 sets out quite clearly what a local government is allowed to spend money on.

The Municipal Cost Containmen­t Regulation­s gazetted in 2019 by Mboweni were an extension of what was already there.

At the time, National Treasury emphasised that every municipali­ty should have its own council-approved cost containmen­t policy as part of its budget.

The MFMA (2003) regulation­s put a ceiling on the value of a vehicle that can be bought by a municipali­ty for its mayor to use.

This is part of the cost containmen­t measures built into the MFMA.

The National Treasury explains that this isn’t to obligate political office bearers to use public transport or other modes of transport, but rather “to ensure expenditur­e in this regard is reasonable and balanced against the service delivery needs and priorities of the municipali­ty”.

We hope that’s what councillor­s were taking into account.

Breaking news from rights organisati­on Section 27 is that the 1978 Copyright Act was on Thursday declared unconstitu­tional insofar as it violates the rights of people who are blind or visually impaired.

In a summary sent to stakeholde­rs, Section 27, which campaigned under the banner “End the book famine”, said the judgment came into effect immediatel­y.

Government has to fix its’ unconstitu­tionality within 24 months and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competitio­n (DTIC) is to pay Section 27’s legal costs.

Braille advocate and Talk of the Town “Able Beyond 20/20” columnist, Pasha Alden, will be commenting on reactions to the judgment by the visually impaired community. —

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