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Maruleng Local Municipality budget approved, opposition object

The Maruleng Local Municipality’s 2024/25 IDP budget was approved after multiple public participation meetings.

A revenue budget of R199.2m will come from property rates and taxes, R5.5m from refuse removal, and R110m from other sources. Employee-related expenditure is budgeted at R107m, remuneration for councillors R14m, repairs and maintenance R8.7m, and general expenses R153.9m.

Of the R39m Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), R2m will go towards the building of Sedawa internal streets (block 7), R12m for Balloon internal streets and R2 m for high masts, R2m for the Lorraine, Belville, and Nkopjie access road, and R8m for an indoor sports centre.

Also read: ‘ANC-led maruleng ignores Bismark’

R1.7m will go towards electrification in Finale, R869 565 for electrification of The Oaks, and R2.4m for Metz. Portia Moropane, the DA PR councillor, critisised the Speaker on how she handled proceedings during the IDP budget council meeting, accusing her of not being neutral. She said the Speaker started to sing after the mayor presented the budget to the council.

“After 20 years the Sepeke cultural village at The Oaks remains a white elephant despite the fact that an additional R23m was allocated by the provincial treasury in last year’s budget on top of the R90m already spent. “There’s also the Maruleng indoor sports centre that keeps milking money from the municipality without any progress. “The people of Klaserie, Kampersrus, Jonkmanspruit, Hoedspruit, Mica, and Ofcolaco are the biggest revenue contributors but have to deal with constant water or power cuts and their bills are exorbitantly high.”

Also read: Hoedspruit still struggle with water, with no permanent solutions

She said the R300 000 budgeted for electricity maintenance, R200 000 for parks and gardens, and R150 000 for streetlights are insufficient. “Our streets are dark, especially in places where a chunk of the revenue comes from.” She said the municipality will need to think outside the box as it cannot continue relying on grants. “The municipality must establish a revenue enhancement unit to draw funds from the DBSA, the Afrika Infrastructure Fund, and USAid to help the municipality generate revenue so that there can be enough budget for infrastructure maintenance,” she added.

Kgodiso Jamicah Sekgobela, an independent councillor in Ward 6, rejected the budget completely as it does not speak to the reality of the everyday lives of communities and does not respect the people’s will. “This budget is a display of power. The increase in expenditure is unjustified and shows a lack of support for local economic development, particularly our SMMEs.” He also critisised a reduction of support to institutions such as Kruger to Canyons and a reduction of the bursary budget as promised to communities.

Also read: Sewage makes life miserable for Hoedspruit residents

Pieter Gerber, FF Plus councillor, said there are many projects the municipality should have considered other than those in the budget. “Security services in Maruleng have increased from R21m to R26m, which is a R5m increase. We asked how many of the security guards employed are members of our community. We also objected to the rate increase as Maruleng has R28m outstanding payments. We want the municipality to collect the debts before increasing tariffs,” he said.

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