Proposed budget will ‘keep people below breadline’

Mitchell’s Plain community organisations say residents cannot afford the proposed municipal tariff increases, tabled in the City of Cape Town’s proposed budget for 2018/19.

Mayor Patricia de Lille proposed, during a full sitting of council on Wednesday March 28, that residents fork out significantly more for municipal services. If the proposed budget for the upcoming financial year is approved, there will be a 26.9% water tariff increase, a 7.2% rates hike, electricity costs will increase by 8.1%, sanitation by 26.9% and refuse removal by 5.7%.

In addition to the increases, the City wants ratepayers to pay a fixed charge for water based on their water meter size as well as Level 7 restriction tariffs.

William Simmers, fondly known as Uncle Willie from the Mitchell’s Plain Community Advice and Development Project (MPCADP), said residents needed to pay for food, transport, school fees and uniforms.

“We strongly object to the proposed council tariff increases,” he said.

“We will stand by the community of Mitchell’s Plain to prevent these increases.”

Norman Jantjes, chairman of the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA), encouraged residents to support and join campaigns opposing the tariff increases which he said were “unjustified” and would put residents further below the breadline.

Mr Jantjes said they would be supporting the Save Cape Town initiative, which would be marching on Friday April 13 at 10am, from 10 Darling Street in the Cape Town CBD.

The Water Crisis Coalition, an umbrella body of several civic bodies, will be opposing the tariff increases with a petition.

Mr Jantjes said Mitchell’s Plain already had quite a few issues, including a high unemployment rate, several people living off social grants and many people, who worked, but lived below the breadline.

Mr Jantjes said queues at loan companies were testament to people being unable to cover basic costs. “Every month they are back in that queue, increasing their debt,” he said, adding that while annual increases were expected, these were way above inflation.

He said Mitchell’s Plain residents were being punished because rich people could afford alternate water and electricity saving devices, like boreholes and tanks.

“In addition to Level 6B water restrictions, now residents will have to fork out more money to cover their water and sanitation bill. We are saying that these increases are not justified and is totally unaffordable for the average Mitchell’s Plain resident,” he said.

Mr Jantjes said the City’s evaluation system is flawed.

He cited the example of someone, who bought a house in Mitchell’s Plain a few years ago at about R75 000, but now it was valued at R500 000.

“The rates increases – these charges are linked to the value of the property and not to the family’s income. This then further increases the burden on ratepayers,” he said.

He said this was why indigent grant applicants were often unsuccessful, because the evaluation of their application was based on the value of their houses.

Mr Jantjes encouraged residents to join local civic organisations to apply pressure on local councillors and the municipality.

He invited residents to attend a Western Cape legislature outreach programme at the Nelson Mandela family and youth community centre at 2pm today, Wednesday April 11.

The proposed budget for the upcoming financial year is
R49.1 billion, with R39.8 billion on the operating budget and R9.2 billion for capital expenditure. The mayor has earmarked
R9.8 billion for water and electricity bulk purchases from the Department of Water and Sanitation and Eskom, while R5 billion has been allocated to informal settlements, water and waste services, which is 54.9% of the capital budget, R1.7 billion for transport and urban development and R1.1 billion for energy.

Domestic customers will be moved to a home user tariff and those with a property valued at more than
R1 million will have to fork out a R150 service charge.

“In terms of the proposed tariff increases for the upcoming financial year, the tariffs are set annually to ensure that the City can deliver the level of services required by our residents,” Ms De Lille said in a statement.

The mayor encouraged residents to take part in the public comment process, which closes on Friday May 4.

See page 13