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This year South Africa marks 23 years since the dawn of democracy and 21 years since the passing of The Constitution which gave rise to rights of all citizens enshrined in the bill of rights. This means that we as government we need to move with speed to redress the past imbalances. This will assist us to restore the dignity of our people who were stripped off their rights over 300 years of colonialism.
Madam speaker many people have been asking me why am I keeping my hair and beard as I usually do not keep hair at all. My answer is very simple, I will not cut my hair until we, as the Municipality are able to cut the grass to the satisfaction of the people we are leading.
As the new administration we are faced with different set of challenges from previous administration. We are entrusted with that responsibility, it is our commitment and with humility that we accept such responsibility.
We are mindful of the commitments we made during the build up to local government elections in 2016 and we are working tirelessly to achieve them, the aspirations of the vast majority of our people lies in our hands and we cannot dare disappoint.
Madam speaker I deliver this my maiden budget speech in the year that the ruling party, the ANC, has declared as the year of Oliver Tambo, let us deepen unity. Comrade O.R led the ANC in exile and in very difficult times. He may no longer be with us, but his legacy lives on.
He was thoughtful, wise and warm hearted. His simplicity, his nurturing style, his genuine respect for all people seemed to bring out the best in him. His rural background and the expertise he acquired through education shaped him to be the man that he was. If we are to tackle the struggle of making the lives of our people better, we must emulate comrade O.R. He was a real servant of the people and a selfless leader. During our local government elections campaign we committed to our people that we shall ensure the following among other things:
1. Visionary, Responsible and Accountable leadership.
2. Improved audit outcomes
3. Improved performance management and compliance
4. Improved public participation
5. Improve on LED to realize tangible results
I want to re-affirm that we are still committed to that. As I said earlier on we are facing different sets of challenges as this administration. You may all have seen the press release on the financial situation of our Municipality. As the Mayor, I have been upfront to say indeed we are facing and experiencing financial challenges. Inevitably, this will affect on our capability to render services. We are working hard to cut off on luxuries and we are improving our collection rate. We cannot be expected to deliver services adequately when those who can afford to pay are not paying. In return we commit to handle the monies entrusted to us in a proper manner. We will ensure value for money, transparency and accountability. As much as financial constraints may have effect on our service delivery, we believe lack of or inadequate supervision of the workers on the ground adds to the problem. We are working to improve on that aspect.
Many maybe asking themselves as to how did we land in dire financial situation? The financial analyses we have conducted reveals among other things that :
• Previously the Municipality over committed reserves into funding of capital projects.
• The deficit budget approach resulted in limited ability to generate reserves. Thanks to the MSCOA deficit budgeting is no longer possible.
• The adoption of below NERSA approved tariffs in the previous financial years exerted pressure on the operating budget to date.
• The outstanding loan account of R500 million exerts pressure on our operating budget. This is serviced at a rate of R47 million on interest alone per annum. It is projected that it will take the Municipality about 9 years or so to service the loan account in full at this rate?
• Municipality incurred increased employee related cost as a result of re- engineering and absorption of contract workers
• About R96 millions of this financial year equitable share was used for the previous FY’s (2015/16) financial commitments.
• The Municipality requires about R116 million to cover monthly fixed costs while the average receipt is about R 111 million
• There are not sufficient reserves to cover the unspent grants, consumer deposits and reserves which must be cash backed.
• As at the end of February 2017 the balance of conditional grant to the tune of R115 million were not cash backed.
• The balance of internally funded capital projects for the current financial year in the sum of R 32 million is not cash backed
Given this situation indeed we have to “Navigate through storms and seas” No doubt this situation is not going to enable us to render all our services as expected, and at the level expected.
Madam Speaker it cannot be disputed that since the ANC took over in 2009, landscape of service delivery has never been the same. Some people say it is not enough, and indeed we agree it is not. It will not be enough for as long as stark difference in terms of development between the town and townships remains as it is. It is and it will remain difficult to render the services in accordance with the needs of the people which are unlimited, based on the limited budget and resources. The needs of our people are not only unlimited but they are getting more and more day by day. The general growth of our economy and our local economy in particular is not helping us much.
When we came into the office we had to grapple with an unfunded budget. We had to review the budget and effect some serious cuts on the budget to get it to the state of being funded. We are skirting on a very thin ice due to budget cuts. It, therefore becomes important that we keep our budget realistic, and really realistic this time around. The effect of the unfunded budget we found is still going to be with us for some time.
Despite all the challenges mentioned above, we have been able to continue to deliver services to improve the lives of our people. The circumstances under which we found ourselves as the new administration reminds me of the words of Oliver Tambo. When he said “Comrades you may think it is very difficult to wage liberation struggle. Wait until you are in power. I might be dead by then. At that stage, you will realize that it is actually more difficult to keep the power than to wage a liberation war. People will be expecting a lot of services from you. You have to satisfy the various demands of the masses of our people. In the process”. How prophetic were these words? Standing on the shoulders of giants like O.R makes us to face our leadership responsibility with more determination. It is profound revelations like this that makes us indeed to tell no lies and to claim no easy victories. It is with this understanding that we know our work is never going to be easy.
In the current financial year we have been able to award 10 full bursaries to local learners who are now university students. We wish we could have assisted more, however our resources are limited. This is done in the spirit of the African proverb that says “it takes the whole village to raise a child” We would like to thank the private sector and individuals who have also assisted many other students in various ways. How can we forget to once more congratulate our District Amajuba for performing best (No. 1) in the province. We are proud of you Jobe and the entire management. We avail ourselves as Municipalities to assist where it is necessary. Through the assistance of the LGSETA we have been able to place 71 students for a period of 18 months, with a stipend of R1 800.00 per month. 30 of our adult employees are going through the adult education and training in a quest to improve their quality of life. We acknowledge that they were not educated because they were denied an opportunity to go to school by the apartheid government.
We continue to strive to bring services to our people, particularly those that impact their lives daily. A tarred road may not put a plate of the food on the table, but it goes a long way to restore dignity and respect to our people. In Osizweni we have upgraded access road to the extent of 4.420 km with the budget of R24 661 295.48. Currently the sum of R14 457 043.93 has been spent on these projects. These include access roads OB1, OB3 and OB8 in ward 18. Also OB7, 13, 45, 134 and OA17 in wards 13, 17, and 11. These projects have seen approximately 60 job opportunities being created. During the implementation of these projects we have encountered various challenges ranging from locals protesting against the contractor, lack of materials from the market (like G5), labour dispute between the contractor and workers. Level of existing services that were unknown conflicted with storm water levels. I am pleased to report that all the challenges have been overcome. Progress on the projects is well underway.
In Madadeni, we are busy improving 5,185km of roads with the budget of R42 354 669.48. There is good progress as it is shown by spending to date of R32 912.36. These road construction projects are in ward 24, 28,6,23, and 27. 76 job opportunities have been created through these projects. Almost similar challenges encountered with the Osizweni projects were also encountered in these projects. Again, all the challenges were resolved and the work is progressing well.
Challenges will always be there, but of greater importance is our attitude and approach towards the resolution of same. From time to time we do encounter cash flow problems which cause some delays in the implementation of the capital projects.
Most of these roads are constructed with sidewalks to provide for safety of the pedestrians.
The Harthorn Street extension is almost complete, in Ward 3. The contractor is busy attending to the snag list. The budget for this project is R1 000 000.00. For the construction of Watt Street a budget of R3.6 million was allocated. The surfacing is 95% complete and the contractor is busy with storm water drainage. There were delays caused by the sewerage pipe that is connected to the storm water. 8 Job opportunities were created.
Water and Sanitation
Madam speaker, we have very high regard and respect for our rural communities. Our government has committed to uplift and develop our people where they live. It is for that reason that we are also in a very equitable manner developing areas like Charlestown, Normandien, Inkwelo and Ingogo among our rural areas. The construction of Charlestown main internal road is underway and is progressing very well, the project is practically complete and the project is a sum of R6 million. The contractor is busy with the snag list.
We are committed to improving the quality of life and economic wellbeing of our people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. We are also very clear in that we shall improve the rural lives with participation of the rural communities themselves so as to meet their needs.
Madam speaker we all know water is life and sanitation is dignity. We cannot over emphasize the importance of water in the human life. On the entire earth water is a most important thing. Every living organism needs water for survival. Both the constitution and the NDP (National Development Plan) enjoin us to provide water to people or at least access thereto.
On the provision of water the following milestones have been achieved:
In Charlestown and Ingogo we have completed the ground water development. The pump station has been constructed and is operational using a generator while waiting for power connection from Eskom. It is pumping 2000 kl of water per day and we were able to supply water even during the drought period. This project came at a cost of R11 501 460.
We have completed procurement of material on the Blaauwbosch bulk water supply project which will services the areas of Blaauwbosch and Dry cut. The total cost of the project phase is R115 million. We are now in the process of appointing the contractor to construct the pipeline.
The Siyahlala bulk water services has been completed at the cost of R45 104 804
Madam speaker the issue of water loss continues to be a challenge. Even the National government has come up with the “war on leaks” programme which is aimed at reducing water loss through leaks on our aging infrastructure. We have spent more than R13 million on Osizweni water conservation and water demand management. We will be continuing with the war on leaks in the 2017/18 financial year as we expect Departments of Water and Sanitation to allocate additional budget for this purpose.
We are continuing with the Soul City and Dicks water supply network. This will enable provision of basic water supply with planned yard connections of about 350 households.
We have in our current budget a sum of R 7 million for the installation of VIP toilets in JBC and NIC areas. The procurement process is at its final stages. We are indeed committed to restoring the dignity of our people, particularly in rural communities.
On rural Electrification
We have been able to switch on 74 households in January 2017 at Charlestown. The project is continuing as we speak. The same with Inkwelo where we are to switch on very soon. Also at Normandien the contractor is on site. The total budget for this areas electrification is R 7 million. We will not rest until such time that the entire Newcastle jurisdiction has access to electricity and all other basic services.
On Human Settlement
We believe we have made significant progress in the provision of houses in our area in the past years. The population growth in our town, as a regional economic hub, makes it difficult to cope with the demand for housing. The following housing projects are underway.
Siyahlala Housing Project. We have started with the first phase of the project. The first phase compromises of 500 units of which 100 have been completed to date. The location of that project affirms our commitment to social integration. The cost of this project is R 56.6 million.
Osizweni Section E Phase 3 Project, to the value of R13601 000 is the most challenging project in terms of performance. The implementing agent has been put on terms to improve performance
Emawozeni brownfield housing project is experiencing a delay due to the outstanding addendum to be signed by the MEC for Human Settlement. We are in constant contact with the department to explore the signing of the addendum by the MEC. The value of the project is R11 476 638.
H39 Housing Project- the installation of internal services is underway. Currently we are facing the challenge of relocating 196 shacks, 100 toilets and 12 solid houses that are on the way of services. We are expecting to start with the construction of the top structures around June/July 2017. The value of project is R48 million.
Charlestown Housing Project. For the first time since the advent of democracy, Charlestown is receiving government built houses. We, as Council, are very much excited about this project. No doubt, people of Charlestown are even more excited. We thank them for their patience over the years. They appreciated the fact that if it was happening in Madadeni and Osizweni, it was also coming to them. That is the nature of Development, it cannot happen at all the places at the same time. The value of this project is R21 million. Construction of internal services is well underway. The slight challenge is the bulk sewer services without which the top structures cannot be commenced with. The Municipality is working hard to get bulk sewer services installed. This is one project we pride ourselves with. We cannot wait to see it complete.
Madam speaker we would be doing an injustice if we do not acknowledge the role played by private sector in various ways, to uplift the lives of our people. We wish to extend our gratitude and appreciation to various corporates and businesses who lend a hand in this regard. Standard Bank has built and donated 4 houses in ward 6,9,12 and 17. We are hoping that other businesses and individuals who are better blessed than many will come forward to lend a hand in the struggle to improve the lives of our people for the better.
Fairleigh and Suryaville flats needed some attention. In the Fairleigh flats there were issues of unsafe stairways and non-compliance with the fire regulations. In Suryaville there were, over and above those at Fairleigh flats, issues of leaking roof and taps. Total cost of these projects is R12 ½ million. We are aware that there are complaints pertaining to the quality of workmanship in these projects. The department under Cllr Matthew Shumnugam is looking into these issues.
This department together with technical services are the face of the Municipality.
In community services we have the following projects under the current financial year.
• Refurbishment of town library. The cost of the project to date is above R 9 million rand, this is a multi-year project.
• New ablution at Fort Amiel. We had one set of toilets and that posed a challenge for the museum. The project is complete and the value was R620.000.
• Charlestown hall, we all remember the unfortunate incident when some unruly members of the community burnt down the hall in Charlestown. A new hall has been completed to the tune of R2.1 million. It is very sad that we are not aware of any person who has been charged and convicted for this incident. We may have forgiven but we certainly have not forgotten. And we will never forget.
• Osizweni Netball court has been completed to the tune of R1million.
• JBC Hall, there are challenges and currently there is no progress on the construction. We expert management to submit a report on the way forward and the resolution of this stale mate.
• Establishment of a play park in Madadeni in Ward14. This project is proceeding well and should be completed by the end of this financial year. We have to mention that we have noted with concern that most play parks equipments have been damaged including fairly new parks. Given our state of finances we may soon be faced with open spaces with no equipments. It is important to ensure good quality equipments are used, and not equipment of inferior quality.
ON THE WELFARE OF OUR COMMUNITY
In our struggle to pursue a better life for our people, we are inspired by the Freedom Charter. When it was drawn up and adopted, it became a clear statement of the future of our country. In carrying out responsibility as Government, working together collectively with all other government departments, we are called upon to ensure that:
• No child must be exposed to an environment that will put his/her future and that of the country at risk.
• No woman must suffer abuse
• No child must go to bed hungry because of deprivation and poverty
• No senior citizen must be abused in any way or neglected.
• No farm worker must suffer indignity of abuse, deprivation and torture
• The aspiration of young people must be natured and nourished to become a reality.
This calls upon all of us as the citizens of our country and various towns to work together united by our common vision and purpose.
As a Municipality we are concerned about the welfare and development of communities. OSS becomes important in this regard. To give effect to the implementation of Operation Sukuma Sakhe, the Special Programmes Unit ensures that all relevant stakeholders participate in the struggle for the people of the our town to “stand up and build” to overcome the issues destroying our communities such as poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse and HIV. This furges delivery of services through partnership with Community Stakeholders and Government. Government has structured programmes which need to get as deep as to the level of the people we are serving. This is at ward and voting district level. We accept that we cannot achieve this alone as government, but need communities involvement in building the nation together. Blacks, Whites, Indians, Colored we need one another. War Rooms become essential in this regard.
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, JOB CREATION AND TECHNOLOGY
South African youth unemployment rate are now considered to be chronic. The latest figure show that about 48% of South Africans between 15 and 34 were unemployed in the third quarter of 2016. The situation has worsened over the past 8 years despite a great deal of policy attention and the implementation of a range of public and private interventions. If not addressed as a matter of urgency, this situation is increasing level of frustrations and impatience among the youth. As Newcastle, we are not immune from this situation.
The Municipality has taken a radical position towards youth development and economic transformation. We have resolved to focus on
1. Youth and Entrepreneurial Development,
2. Government and Private sector linkages to stimulate Economic Growth and Foreign Direct Investment.
We will soon be announcing the opening of the full service Centre by the NYDA in our town. This fully fledged Centre will not only assist with youth and entrepreneurial development, but also with access to finance for the youth to start businesses. Access to finance is the main obstacle to our youth in realizing their dreams of starting their own businesses.
As Newcastle Municipality we are excited to announce the commencement of a digital transformation initiative that aims to use technology to enhance service delivery, open opportunities for business, expand options for youth job creation and create an environment for rapid transformation. The initial phase will see the installation of 100 public hotspots by June 2017, at selected municipal facilities and service centers, including schools and clinics. This will also allow for affordable access to broadband for the general public interfacing with the Municipality.
2017/18 FINANCIAL YEAR DRAFT BUDGET
Let us now talk about the 2017/18 financial year draft budget. Due to the lessons learnt in the 2016/ 17 financial year budget, we are approaching this budget carefully. We have to be as realistic as we can be. The exercise of reviewing the 2016/2017 budget has taught us some lessons in a very hard way
The Operational Budget 2017/2018 proposed budget comprises of an operational budget to the tune of R1 816, 269, 996.
The Municipality is expecting to generate the following operational revenue
R 696.6 million from the sale of electricity
R 172 million from the sale of water
R 110 million from the sewer charges
R 89 million from refuse removal
R 283 million from rates
These are our primary sources of revenue and they are expected to contribute about R1.3 billion to the projected revenue. This represents 77% of the total projected revenue.
Grants and subsidies will contribute R 344.9 million to the operating revenue which represents 19.8% of the total projected revenue. Fines will generate R5.2 million. About R15.5 will be generated from interest on outstanding debtors, R8 million from facilities rentals, manly municipal flats and houses. R17.7million will be generated from the sundry revenue of the Municipality.
In accordance with the relevant legislation and national directives, the Municipality projected revenue collection rates are based on realistic and sustainable trends. The Municipality will clean–up its indigent register by identifying those who can afford and those who cannot afford to pay.
We are fully aware and we appreciate the fact that we have cut to the bone. The departments are expected to closely monitor their budget performance on weekly basis. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it. We must remember that we have a half a billion rands loans to service. We are operating with a serious deficit as we speak.
We know budget deficit solutions require leadership at all levels. We cannot afford to increase taxes and turn to borrowing without effecting drastic cuts on our budget spending. We cannot afford to spend more than we make, ideally we should borrow what we can afford to pay back, but for now we can’t even borrow.
The major expenditure projected are to be incurred on bulk purchases and employee related costs
R 579.3 million will be spent on bulk purchases as follows
• R494 million for electricity
• R66.7 million for UTW
• R15 million for deportation for Department of Water affairs as we as
• R 3 million for water purchase at Charlestown
R 514.7 million will be spend on employee costs, with only R30 million appropriated for overtime in respect of essential services.
R 3.8 million is projected for vacant SED positions and R16 million for critical positions
We are further projecting to spend R 45.1 million for the maintenance of municipal infrastructure. While it is well understood that this provision is far less than the norm or 8% of our total budget, this was provided on the basis of availability as the budget is income based.
R92 million is projected to fund indigent subsidies and note to be taken is that free water subsidy has been reduced from 12kl to 6 kl per household per month.
A further R128 million has been appropriate in respect of general expenditure, R5.7 million for collection fees, R22.2 million for contracted services, R47 million for the interest on loans. R23.2 million is for remuneration of Councillors. For debt impairment and depreciation we project R247.8 million and R93.4 million respectively.
RATES AND SERVICES INCREASE
The funding of Operational Budget is obtained through various sources, the major ones being:
• Property rates which we propose to increase by 7%
• Electricity 1.88 %
• Water 7%
• Sanitation 7%
• Refuse removal 7%
• Other general sources of revenue 10%
Our Municipality comprises of both rural and urban area as well as wide spread of income groups. Due to variation in living environment, the Municipality area has a number of households who currently do not have access to all services. We continues to provide basic services for free to households who earn below the threshold of R3500.00 pm. We provide free 50 kW of electricity per month, free 6 kl of water per month, with the following services subsidized 100% sanitation, refuse removal as well as property rates.
We further provide the following rebates
• Floods victims 50%
• Pensioners 25%
• B&B Business 10%
• Bus development with property above R50 million
⎫ From year 0-4 40%
⎫ From year 5-6 25%
⎫ From year 7-8 10%
As we have been doing since 2009 we will continue with Service Delivery Projects. We now even have better experience in rolling out service delivery. We will do so within our budgetary constraints and keeping in mind the costs of maintenance and upkeep of the capital infrastructure we are building. We must also ensure that we get good quality and good workmanship from our services providers. We must guard against putting up infrastructure that we cannot maintain going forward. This causes more of a frustration to our communities than relief. About 90% of the capital projects are grant funded
For the 2017/18 fi the capital budget is the sum of R234, 127,702.00
Which will be allocated as follows
Roads Infrastructure Improvements R 89,113,702.00
Water & Sanitation R 120,589,000.00
Electricity Roll Out R 9,000,000.00
Extension of Newcastle library R 5,425,000.00
Building of the new library in Charlestown R 10,000,000.00
It is exciting that the community of Charlestown are going to have a fully-fledged library. This goes a long way to show that our government is serious about the education of our communities. We hope that after completion it will be put to good use by the Charlestown community and surrounding areas.
The extension of Newcastle library will enhance library services and will improve accessibility with more efficiency and effectiveness. The extension overall will provide improved floor space in a number of areas in the library.
The roads improvement and stormwater infrastructure will assist in the improvement of the quality of roads infrastructure and better management of stormwater through proper drainage system. Included in that will be the traffic calming devices and pedestrian side- walks.
The water and sanitation projects will ensure improved sanitation system, accelerate access by increasing number of households with basic access to sanitation. This will also see the increase in the number of households with access to basic potable water.
The following Wards will benefit from the proposed capital budget:
On the roads infrastructure improvements including storm water management wars 13,18,11,8,9,12,30,17,21,1,2,24,28,19,14,10 and 26.
On water and sanitation infrastructure improvements wards 5,4,3,2,31,21,1,19,16,18,8,9,11,12,30,17,31,6,33, and 12.
On electricity roll out ward 25 and ward 1
FUNDING OF CAPITAL BUDGET
The capital budget is funded mainly by allocations made to us by National and Provincial Governance in the form of grants, as well as a minor portion of internally provided funds. No external loans will be taken by the Municipality to fund the capital programme. Furthermore, no reserves are available for the purpose of funding the capital budget saves for VAT returns on grants projects.
The Municipality has approved R234.7 million from grants receipts to fund Capital (Projects) Budget, both from National and Provincial Governments. This amount is made up of MIG, MWIG, NDPG, and Electrification Grant, as well provincial allocation from Department of Arts and Culture under the leadership of MEC Bongi Sithole Moloi. R18 million worth of projects will be funded from internal funds to be generated through VAT refunds on conditional grants as per circular 58 of the MFMA.
Madam speaker that than completes our proposed draft budget 2017/2018 financial year
I would like to thank the members of the Executive Committee in particular and the entire council for their tireless efforts in ensuring that we keep the ship afloat and navigate through storms and seas. Executive Committee members were the first victims of our financial situation as they had to forego 50% of their salaries. Despite that, they are still committed and dedicated to their work. Some of them are professionals who could easily walk away to make more money elsewhere. I would like to say to them please let us remain steadfast. At some point, THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
I would like to thank the senior and middle management for the work that they are doing in this regard. As Councillors, we are aware that most of the time we are very hard on you. Please understand that it’s nothing personal, and it’s all about the struggle to improve the lives of our people.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the fact that this is a Draft Budget. We will be going out on a consultation process on it. We expert all individuals and all stakeholders to constructively criticize this draft budget and make recommendations. We also welcome all sorts of inputs and submission that will positively influence the second draft and the final budget before it’s approved by Council.
Last and most importantly I would like to thank my wife and my entire family for their support and understanding.
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