Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Criteria for bursaries

Committee member Barry Vosloo writes: The ratepayers’ association recently wrote to the Municipal Manager (MM) commending the municipality for the study grants awarded to deserving students during the past financial year as well as its intention to do so again this year. The MM was asked for the assurance that beneficiaries are chosen in terms of council-approved criteria that are applied by a council-approved committee.

The MM assured ratepayers in writing that the bursaries are awarded by the municipality’s Bursary Committee. This committee awarded 39 bursaries for tertiary studies this year, based on the following criteria:
  • Applicants must be studying towards a “scarce skill”, i.e. Engineering, Information Technology, Project Management or Town Planning (including Draughtsmanship and Architecture).
  • Applicants must have been accepted by a recognised tertiary institution.
  •  Preference is given to applicants whose parents/caregivers have the lowest income.
  • Bigger bursaries are awarded to applicants who will be studying at state-funded institutions as opposed to private institutions. This is because applicants are more likely to qualify for further bursaries, enabling them to complete their studies at state-funded institutions.
  • The size of the bursary depends on the monies available for bursaries and the number of qualifying applicants.

Chaos erupts over mayor

CHAOS erupted in the Jeffreys Bay town centre yesterday when police fired a stun grenade to scatter two groups of protestors – 300 ANC Alliance members marching against Kouga Mayor Robbie Dennis and 100 of his supporters, writes Lee-Anne Butler in The Herald.

Seven people were held as police moved in outside the municipal offices, where the DA was also introducing an abortive motion to have Dennis removed from office.

The memorandum handed over yesterday stated: “We remain loyal members of the ANC and shall continue to defend our movement against corrupt individuals who abuse state resources to enrich themselves through jobs for pals, friends and families.”

The memorandum adds that black communities in the Kouga municipal area have been neglected with regard to service delivery and governance under Dennis.

Meanwhile, during a heated council meeting which took place at the same time as the protest march, DA members also put forward a motion to have Dennis removed, but this was not approved.

DA caucus leader Chimpie Cawood said they had introduced a motion of no confidence in Dennis as mayor for the very same reasons the crowd outside were marching. He said the DA also blamed Dennis for corruption, lack of service delivery in the Kouga Municipality and bad leadership, among other things.

“We put forward this motion, but we were voted out before anything could be done about it.

“We also think it is time that Robbie Dennis steps down and we will now be seeking legal opinion to see that this happens,” he said.

Full report in The Herald

Sunday, 28 March 2010

More money for books

On 2 March 2010 an observation was posted on our blog to the effect that there were indications that the municipality’s initial monetary allocation of R109 750 to local libraries was

(a) reduced to somewhere between R80 000 and R90 000 and
(b) that the money had not yet been spent.

See blog entry “Only R887 per library for books”.

Committee member Barry Vosloo reports that the ratepayers’ association subsequently took up the matter with the municipal manager, who responded as follows:

“The money budgeted for library books in the 2009/2010 financial year was released after approval of the adjustment budget and will be used to purchase library books in the current financial year.

"Library staff has done a needs analysis at the various libraries and they are currently finalising the list of books to be purchased, after which the procurement process will commence.”

Thursday, 25 March 2010

No municipal tax for low earners

A proposed change to the Municipal Property Rates Act will exempt all those who fall below the lowest income tax threshold from paying rates, Cooperative Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka said on Thursday (25 March 2010.).

Provinces will be given an oversight role to rein in municipalities in this regard.
  • Shiceka signalled that he intended to take firm action against property owners who refuse to pay rates, be they in leafy areas or townships.
  • He acknowledged that those who evaded rates often had genuine grievances but said their actions were as unlawful as launching violent service delivery protests.
  • "These are the same as the protests in the townships - they take different forms; these are using their money, the others are burning their tyres.
  •  "The one is more sophisticated, the other more violent. We believe none of these activities are acceptable."
  • The minister said he would on Monday start holding a series of meetings with ratepayers' associations to hear their concerns. "I believe that we will find solutions. If that does not work, the law must take its course. I'm building legal capacity in the department to be able to take anybody head-on, irrespective of who they are," he warned. -- Sapa, 25 March 2010.
Read the full report on Fin24 here.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

No more shorts and T-shirts

Het Kouga se munisipale werkers geen kleredragkode nie? het mnr Bennie du Preez van Jeffreysbaai onlangs gevra.

Werknemers wat groot geld verdien, trek soos skoonmakers aan, was sy waarneming. T-hemde, veral, is gewild, het hy geskryf.

Altemit het die Botswana regering die regte antwoord op Bennie se kwelling. Dié land se direktoraat van openbare dienste het pas soos volg besluit:

"Shorts, tight skirts and suggestive T-shirts are out and, in stifling local temperatures, men must wear long-sleeved shirts, according to new dress regulations for civil servants issued by Botswana authorities.

"In an arid, largely desert nation where daytime temperatures soar to 38ºC, the government has said that its employees in breach of the dress code face unspecified disciplinary action."
  • Die munisipale bestuurder kan gerus kennis neem.
Klik hier om die volledige berig te lees.

Let communities maintain the roads

We should do what they do in India:  allocate stretches of the road to local communities to maintain at a fixed cost per year (not per pothole because that would create an incentive to enlarge the problem). They would be given the sand and stone required, and every day they would inspect the condition of the road to make the necessary repairs.

The above is a most interesting proposal from Clem Sunter, futurist, public speaker and author of several books.

Read his views on roads here.
  • How about the Kouga municipaltity taking the initiative with such a project in Jeffreys Bay, Ocean View, Aston Bay, Tokyo Sexwale, Hankie, Pellsrus, Loerie, wherever -- simultaneously creating work for a large number of unemployed people?  Mayor Robbie Dennis may consider the feasibility of it.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Mag jy of mag jy nie?

Mag jy of mag jy nie jou munisipale belasting weerhou?

Tans is daar ‘n groot debat landwyd oor dié onderwerp.

Dis voor-die-handliggend dat die antwoord in die reg lê.

Prof Christopher Whittle, kenner van plaaslikeregeringbestuur aan die Tshwane-universiteit van Tegnologie, sê daar is geen voorsiening in munisipale wetgewing vir die onthouding van belastinggeld of vir alternatiewe regerings nie, selfs al word dienste nie gelewer nie. Al lewer inwoners ‘n diens uit noodweer, het hulle steeds ‘n burgerlike plig op dienstegeld en erfbelasting te betaal.

Gister in Rapport het ‘n ander dimensie na vore getree. (Klik HIER vir die volledige berig en besprekings.) Die strekking daarvan was soos volg:
  • JY MAG NIE, want dan oortree jy ‘n wet, omdat jy’n (plaaslike) regering wat demokraties verkies is, ondermyn. (Publieke Reg.)
  • JY MAG, want as iemand na jou belange moet omsien en hy nie sy verantwoordelikheid nakom nie, kan jy die geld gebruik om dit self te doen. (Privaatreg).
Daar is onder meer soos volg berig: “Die landdroshowe in Kroonstad en Phalaborwa het die afgelope week in twee afsonderlike sake munisipaliteite verbied om die water- en elektrisiteitsvoorsiening af te sny van inwoners wat hul erfbelasting weerhou. In albei sake het die howe ook bevind dat munisipaliteite geen geregtelike stappe mag doen nie waar grondeienaars met ’n munisipaliteit in ’n geskil is. Die howe het ook beveel dat stadsrade nie die water- en kragtoevoer mag afsny van belastingbetalers wie se erfbelasting agterstallig is nie.”
  • Mnr Jaap Kelder, voorsitter van die Nasionale Belastingbetalersunie (NBU), sê dié “waterskeidingsuitsprake” toon dat die inwoners van die 24 dorpe landwyd wat hul munisipale gelde weerhou, rustig kan slaap omdat hul optrede wettig is. Adv. Paul Hoffmann SC, direkteur van die Sentrum vir Grondwetlike Regte, sê hy stem saam dat inwoners geregtig is om munisipale geld te weerhou wanneer hulle geen dienste ontvang nie. Die NBU beroep hom op die regsbeginsel dat wanneer iemand na iemand anders se belange moet omsien en nie sy verantwoordelikheid nakom nie, die party wat te na gekom word, die geld kan gebruik om dít te doen wat die ander party nalaat om self te doen, sê Hoffmann.
  • Mnr Len Dekker, ‘n kenner van munispale reg, antwoord hierop: die hofuitsprake ten gunste van belastingbetalers wat hul munisipale gelde weerhou, is gegrond in tegniese redes en nie in die verdienste van die saak nie. “In hofsake waar munisipaliteite die regte prosedures volg en belastingbetalers hul munisipale gelde weerhou, gaan belastingbetalers verloor,” waarsku Dekker.
Of wetgewing weerhouding toelaat of nie, hier kan ingewikkelde regsake ter sprake wees. Menings alleen hieroor sal nie die antwoord gee nie. Dit sal in ‘n hoë hof getoets moet word. Die tyd hiervoor het waarskynlik aangebreek.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Meer beheer oor munisipale bestuurders beoog

Suid-Afrika se “Eurosentriese” Grondwet is die wortel van plaaslike owerhede se kwaad. Dit is geskik vir ontwikkelde lande waar plaaslike regerings gevorderd genoeg is om onafhanklik te funksioneer, maar nie vir Suid-Afrika nie, sê mnr. Sicelo Shiceka, minister van koöperatiewe regering.

Shiceka beoog nuwe wetgewing wat die beheer oor munisipale bestuurders op sy kop gaan draai. Een beplande nuwe maatreël is dat bestuurders by munisipaliteite sonder salaris geskors moet word weens korrupsie en bedrog. Klik hier om die berig in Beeld te lees.

Die wysigingswetsontwerp sal teen einde April gepubliseer word vir openbare kommentaar.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Die griewe is geldig, sê adjunk-minister

Wit belastingbetalers wat hul dienstegeld uit protes teen swak dienslewering weerhou, se griewe is inderdaad geldig.

“Hul griewe is inderdaad geldig. Ons respekteer hulle en ons is jammer oor die (swak) dienslewering, maar verandering gaan nie oornag gebeur nie.

Dis niemand anders nie as mnr. Yunus Carrim, adjunkminister van koöperatiewe regerin, wat só praat.

Lees die berig in Beeld deur hier te klik.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Secretive Kouga council "acted against Constitution" costing us R200 000

A High Court judge found that Kouga’s procurement process did not comply with the Constitution and that the municipality had shown a “flagrant disregard” for its constitutional obligations.

Now the municipality must change its tune in awarding tenders and pay legal costs to the amount of more than R200 000.

“In my view, the conduct of the first respondent (Kouga) was not fair, not equitable, and not transparent,” Judge J Eksteen said. He found that Kouga had lulled a contractor into a false sense of security with its repeated extensions and ambiguous correspondence, all the while concluding a contract with the other company.

The matter relates to the municipality's invitation for tenders for an access road in Jeffreys Bay in Janaury 2009. Although consultant firm, Aurecon, recommended a contractor for the job in its tender report, the municipality appointed another company.

Click here to read the report in The Herald.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

If corruption and incompetency persist ...

"What Shiceka (Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs) should know by now is that the ratepayers’ associations will grow and prosper while corruption, incompetent cadres and lack of capacity persist in the local sphere of government. The poor, who do not pay rates, will continue to torch tyres, barricade roads with boulders and incinerate infrastructure until they are the recipients of proper service delivery.
The remedy begins with good human resource management."

These are the words of Paul Hoffman of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa in an article in Business Day on 8 March 2010.

Read the full, most interesting, article by clicking here.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Residents in last ditch bid to stop nuclear plant

The red dot indicates the location of Thyspunt.
A bit more than 26km (as the crow flies) from Jeffreys Bay is Thyspunt. It is here where Eskom has a nuclear reactor of  “well over R100-billion” in mind to secure the country’s power reserves until well beyond 2025.

Residents of Jeffreys Bay should take note of this proposed development and the reaction of residents in that area .  A report in this regard was published in The Weekend Post of 6 March 2010. Click here to read.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Corruption is the cause

Corruption in local governments was the root cause of poor service delivery, the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) said on Friday (5 March 2010).

Speaking at the union's annual NEC meeting in Johannesburg, general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo said the union would "name and shame" corrupt individuals who were more serious about enriching themselves with government contracts than with service delivery.

"We have done so in the North West, we will do so in the rest of the country," he said. -- News24
  •  We are waiting , Mr Nhlapo, to do your act in Jeffreys Bay.

Do your homework

My advice to home-owners is this: do your homework, and ensure that you are getting a fair deal from your council. It’s not that difficult to do: simply get a credible estate agent – or better still, a certified property valuer – to visit your home and provide you with all the correct information you need to determine a fair property value and rateable amount. Cross-check this, too, with recent property sales in your area.

... and you have peace of mind that you are not being overcharged.

... it could save you thousands in rates payments.

That is the view of Adrian Goslett of RE/MAX in the latest newsletter of Private Property. Read it by clicking here.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Workshop: statement and details to follow

On 1 and 2 March 2010 the Federation of Kouga Ratepayers' and Residents' Associations (FEKRRA) held a workshop with representatives of the Kouga municipality.  The goal was to find common ground on contentious matters.

A joint statement by mayor Robbie Dennis and the chairperson of FEKRRA, Joe Oosthuizen, will soon be issued.

More details will afterwards be published on our blog.

Onstellende eienaardighede

Die finansiële state van Kouga se munsipaliteit vir 2008/2009 jaar toon onstellende eienaardighede. Sekretaris Gerrie Botes ontbloot 'n paar.

In dié state bevestig die munisipaliteit dat hy miljoen rande se “onreëlmatige” uitgawes aangegaan het, dat hy prestasiebonusse betaal het, terwyl hy vroeër ontken het dat hy dit gaan doen en dat hy boetes betaal het vir nugter weet waarvoor.

Hoor dié een: ‘n kwart miljoen is aan oortyd uitbetaal aan mense wat nie op oortyd geregtig is nie.

Só praat die state:
  1. ‘n Bylaag oor "irregular expenses" is skokkende leesstof. ‘n Totale bedrag van R35,6 miljoen is hieraan uitgegee;
  2. Ondanks ontkennings dat prestasiebonusse betaal sal word, toon die state dat 'n bedrag van R4.2 miljoen verlede jaar daaraan uitgegee is;
  3. ‘n Onstellende aantekening is dat 'n bedrag van R1.1 miljoen betaal is aan "Penalties", sonder enige verduideliking wat dit behels;
  4. Die state toon ook dat R238 527 aan OORTYD betaal is aan "employees not entitled to receive overtime".
  5. Onderstaande tabel skets ‘n verdere prentjie van:

Uitstaande geld van inwonersR28,6 miljoenR42,4 miljoen48%
Salarisse en lone *R56,9 miljoenR71,8 miljoen26%
ToelaesR7,0 miljoenR9,4 miljoen32%
* Uitgesluit bydraes deur die munisipaliteit, oortyd, toelaes en subsidies.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Only R887 per library for books

By Barry Vosloo, Ratepayers' Committee Member

On 26 May 2009 I responded as follows to an item in the 2010/11 draft budget:

“It is beyond belief that the 11 libraries in the Kouga region have been allocated the paltry amount of R9 752 (i.e. R887 per library) to purchase “books and publications”.

This almost certainly explains the poor state of books and the shortage of new publications in e.g. the Jeffreys Bay library – particularly the children’s section, which is the only source of reading pleasure for many (most?) of the children in town.

I find it downright offensive that, by comparison, councillors will eat and drink their way through R210 000 in the coming year! I trust that Council will ensure that the allocation for “books and publications” will be increased.”

The Chief Financial Officer responded by pointing out that it is the responsibility of the provincial government to provide funds for provincial libraries, not the municipality’s. To their credit, however, the municipality subsequently increased their contribution to R109 750.55. By the way, the provincial administration adds little value to local libraries.

It was a huge disappointment to be told recently that the municipality’s monetary allocation to local libraries was (a) reduced to somewhere between R80 000 and R90 000, and (b) that the money has not yet been spent.

Question: How on earth can children develop a reading culture without having access to sufficient books of good quality?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Eskom 'protects' municipalities

Eskom fears town residents could rise up against their municipalities if they find out how much the municipalities owe the electricity utility. Read the full report here.

Recently, due to a lack of payment, Jeffreys Bay municipality had to make special arrangements with Eskom