The tabling of the Tshwane budget started five hours late. According to IOL, the City of Tshwane’s special council for the 2023/24 financial year was marred by chaos, walkouts, and delays, causing the meeting to commence later than scheduled.
Yesterday’s meeting, set to take place at the Tshwane House council chambers, encountered a dramatic start when EFF councillors demanded Mayor Cilliers Brink to drink water they had brought in a 2-litre bottle, claiming it was “from Hammanskraal.” This action was in response to the ongoing water crisis in the township, which has resulted in numerous hospital admissions and fatalities.
Inside the council chambers, EFF councillors displayed placards condemning the water quality in Hammanskraal and confronted Council Speaker Mncedi Ndzwanana. While pouring dirty water into a glass, EFF regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu challenged Mayor Brink to consume it, stating, “Drink it and let’s see if you are going to wake up in the morning.”
The EFF had requested a postponement of the meeting to address the concerns of Hammanskraal residents, which further fueled their determination to disrupt the council sitting. Mayor Brink, however, criticised the EFF’s actions as a political stunt, expressing his disappointment and emphasising the importance of delivering the budget speech.
After a five-hour delay, the council meeting resumed. Still, the EFF staged a walkout upon learning that the public already had access to the budget speech. On the other hand, the ANC demanded an apology from Finance MMC Peter Sutton for releasing the budget before it was officially tabled and passed in council. Sutton eventually apologised after initial resistance.
Mayor Brink addressed the media, stating that the City had allocated R450 million over the next three years to refurbish the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant to improve water quality in Hammanskraal and its surrounding areas. However, he acknowledged that this budget allocation alone would not be sufficient to complete the entire project, which requires an estimated R2.5 billion for the second phase of plant upgrades.
Brink also addressed allegations of water being sold to residents by contractors hired to distribute clean water, urging individuals to note the number plates of water tanker trucks to report any potential abuses.
Regarding the budget, Mayor Brink emphasised the City’s limited resources and the need for partnerships and additional financing from other spheres of government. He mentioned ongoing discussions with the Development Bank of Southern Africa and other potential financiers to bridge the funding gap for the Rooiwal project.
Despite the disruptions, Finance MMC Peter Sutton was eventually permitted to deliver the budget speech, highlighting the R450 million allocation for Rooiwal and other financial provisions.