THE Ndlambe council held a marathon meeting lasting more than five hours last week, on which the last item on the agenda was the budget.
The composition of the audit committee, an independent advisory body, was a point of contention at the meeting.
The ANC nominated Wiggett Sabatha Mbalekwa, Sikhululekile Mantame and Advocate Albert Max Bluhm to be appointed as members of the committee which is intended to advise council and municipal management on a range of financial matters and have access to the municipality's financial records.
The municipality's earlier notice calling for applications by appropriately qualified people to serve on the audit committee was controversial because of the short timeframe to receive applications and the terminology used.
DA caucus leader Ross Purdon said he was happy with the choice of Bluhm and Mantame, "but all three are from outside Ndlambe”.
He nominated anther applicant, Doug Walters from Kenton-on-Sea, as the third member.
Councillor Skura Venene said: "The decision on these names was taken by the ANC caucus, now the opposition is asking us to consider another name.”
Several ANC councillors stated that having candidates with the relevant expertise was more important than having someone local.
Mayor Sipho Tandani agreed with councillor Phindile Faxi that in addition to expertise, the members of the committee needed to support the municipality's goals and objectives.
It was put to the vote and the ANC outvoted the opposition 13 to 7. Independent councillor Zache Ngxingo voted with the DA.
Mayor's language questioned
An ANC councillor, Khululwa Ncamiso, raised a concern over the mayor's language in his budget speech delivered at a previous council meeting.
She referred specifically to Tandani's statement: "It would be irresponsible of the municipality to implement national Treasury guidelines when it knows that by doing so the municipality will face serious financial problems.”
"This makes it seem as if we're saying we won't comply with national guidelines. It could create legal problems,” Ncamiso said.
Tandani said his responses to objections to the budget were not necessarily his own.
Abuse of RDP houses
An audit of the RDP houses handed over in Thornhill last year revealed 90 beneficiaries had not yet signed transfer documents, 79 units are being rented out by the intended beneficiaries, five are being used by relatives of the beneficiaries, two were unoccupied, one was sold by a beneficiary and at least one is being used illegally as a spaza shop.
Among those renting a home from an intended beneficiary is DA councillor Noluthando Donile.
Councillor Venene said he might embarrass a colleague, but "looking at the list of renters”, he felt councillors should act with integrity.
As for businesses, the mayor agreed with councillor Thembani Mazana that the absence of shops at Thornhill posed a problem for the community.
He said potential shop owners should apply for consent use to run spaza shops carrying the basic necessities.
As for those who have not yet occupied their homes, they would be given 48 days to respond to a municipal advert, or their names would be removed as beneficiaries.
DA councillor Terri Stander said the amount of overtime in the adjustment budget was unacceptable.
"We've spent R1,3-million on overtime,” she said, contrasting this with vacant post savings of about R400 000.
The reason given for overtime is fleet downtime and shortage of staff. Wouldn't it have been better to fill vacant positions to save money?”
Feeling the Speaker's sting
Councillor Ngxingo was cut short when he asked to be represented on the municipal land task team that was formed to indentify municipal owned properties that could be sold to raise money to build new office facilities.
Tandani said the committee should proportionally represent the parties in council and will comprise four ANC and two DA councillors.
"I'm also a party,” Ngxingo objected. "I'm used to being excluded. You have every right to tell me to shut up and sit down, Madam Speaker.”
Speaker Vivian Maphaphu told Ngxingo to stop talking and sit down.