For almost all of the previous 17 years since the City was formed, political debate occurred when the Draft Budget was tabled for public comment. This serves many purposes including that it helps inform the public about what to look for / comment on, and what political parties are saying. This year debate wasn’t allowed.
- We will only receive the draft budget at the meeting tomorrow after the Mayor tables it for public participation.
- No political parties are allowed to debate the draft budget tomorrow – only at the May council meeting when it is tabled for adoption.
- None of this was discussed with opposition political parties beforehand. It is simply their unilateral decision taken without consultation with us.
- This decision wasn’t even explained to us, we had to find out from officials in the administration today, less than 24 hours before the meeting.
In almost every year since the formation of the City in 2000, through all the Citys many Mayors from Marais in 2000 to De Lille in 2015, the practice has always been that councillors / parties get the opportunity to freely and publicly debate the draft budget when it is tabled for public participation, and then again in May when its tabled for adoption.
Political debate on the draft budget when it is tabled, is vital because it gives parties an opportunity to narrow the issues, debate alternatives and raise concerns for the public to comment on during the public participation process that follows its tabling.
The ACDP rejects this unilateral decision with the contempt it deserves. Its a slap in the face for open democratic processes, elected political representatives and long established due political process.
It also proves the Mayor and Speaker are using every opportunity to shut down open and free public debate in the very forum established for that purpose – the council meeting. What is it that they are hiding that their predecessors did not?
This follows the decision of the Speaker in Sept 2016 to not allow any political debate in council on agenda items that are tabled for council to note (decisions made at other levels).
Council is now not allowed to properly exercise its oversight of these decisions by freely debating them – we are simply expected to rubber stamp these decisions while muzzled.
For example, no debate is allowed tomorrow on the Mayors decision to declare Cape Town a local disaster area due to the water crisis, and the lack of response and support by relevant national government departments.
This shutting down of debate in council is extremely worrying.