The City of Cape Town’s 2020/2021 annual budget – getting through the COVID-19 pandemic as One City Together

Covid19 Source: Google Images

Councillors, city officials, residents, members of the media, today, in these unprecedented times, I table the City’s annual budget before council.

Doing so via Skype is a new approach for all us, but these are necessary measures during the global coronavirus pandemic that is affecting millions around the world. I want to thank all those officials who have made this council meeting possible. Under these conditions, this is no small achievement, and I want to applaud you for how quickly we have been able to adapt our systems.

As we are yet to see the peak of this pandemic we will continue to lose loved ones over the coming weeks. This is going to be a painful period for many of us, and I want to send my condolences to the families, friends, colleagues, and loved ones of all those who have passed away as a result of this virus.

The current COVID-19 global pandemic has called for an unprecedented global health response and the City of Cape Town has risen to this, allocating resources to support the City’s health response and augment our cleansing and sanitation services.

I want to take a moment to thank all our front line workers. We take our hats off to you, and appreciate the dedication you have shown to keep this City functioning and making sure services are delivered.

We are working very closely with National and Provincial Government to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. The current figures continue to climb as we are effectively tracking and tracing those who have been affected to ensure that they are provided with the necessary care.

I want to again call on the public to please follow the safety measures that we have all been asked to follow – stay home if possible, wear a mask if you have to leave your house, wash your hands regularly, and look after yourself.

Before I address the content of this budget, I also want to thank the public for your input on the budget that is being tabled today.

We received many comments on the budget, and we have taken all of these into account when compiling the final draft. This is your budget and I am glad that you have engaged so actively, this is a sign of a healthy civil society.

The proposed annual budget for 2020/21 amounts to a total of R54.4 billion, with an operating budget of R44.bn and a capital budget of R9.6bn. The budget outlines the funded commitments of the City, which will see us deliver on our Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and associated strategies in order to effectively support the lives and livelihoods of all our residents.

We have adapted our service delivery models so that essential services can continue to be delivered safely and expanded where necessary to support the national response. During the national lockdown, we have seen some of our capital projects put on hold and the delivery of some of our non-essential services has also been compromised.

We will continue to chart a recovery path for these and ensure that they are brought back online when it is appropriate to do so. We intend to minimise the impact of any disruptions and ensure that our residents continue to receive the benefits that these services offer.

Prior to the arrival of this pandemic, we were already faced with the economic challenges of a sluggish national GDP growth rate and high national unemployment.

Within the constrained fiscal environment, we are ensuring that every rand we spend will help to stabilise our economy and support its growth.

People of Cape Town, I know these are tough times but we will make it through this, as One City Together.

Today we are tabling a R3bn social package to support the indigent, disabled and pensioners.

If your property value is below R300 000, or household income is below R4500, you will get no less than a 100% property and refuse rebate, 10.5 kilolitres of free water, 7.35 kilolitres of sanitation, and 60 kilowatt hours of free electricity if your consumption is kept low.

We know that many have already lost their jobs or fallen on hard times.  That’s why we are raising the indigent threshold to R7000 income per month, and increasing the rates discount for many in this category.

Our annual rates increases are the lowest of all metros who have tabled budgets so far. Good governance is enabling us to absorb the estimated R2 billion COVID-19 impact on our budget, without passing this burden onto residents.

In this way, more people can not only qualify for relief, but do so via a quicker and easier application process.

A range of interest-free payment options are also available for struggling residents who have fallen behind on their rates.

My message to you is this: ‘Hou uit, hou aan, en hou moed.’ We’ll get through these tough times as One City Together.

Safety and Security is also a continued focus area of our budget. This can be seen in the allocations given to capacitating Law Enforcement, and ensuring that our residents and municipal facilities are better served. In the absence of the required resources for the South African Police Service to be able to effectively address the unacceptably high levels of crime and violence in our City, and with the support of the Western Cape Government, we have launched a significant programme to train, equip, and deploy law enforcement officials over the next three years.

We will also be installing additional CCTV cameras across the metro and additional vehicles are being made available for our officers.The City will continue to expand security operations to support the Rail Enforcement Unit in protecting commuters and rail infrastructure.

In dealing with ‘grime’ the administration is continuing the roll-out of a city-wide clean-up campaign, and we call on residents to assist by ensuring that their local community does not tolerate illegal dumping.

The challenges exposed by efforts to facilitate social distancing and lockdown directives in informal settlements and other overcrowded settlements underlie the existing challenges of housing delivery. This is a shared responsibility of all spheres of government and the private sector, and one which remains a priority of this administration. In order to decisively overcome the legacies of apartheid, we are working hard to provide more truly integrated human settlements.

This is a necessary and multifaceted budget which has been developed in response to our obligation to continue delivering services and enable progress in the lives of all people who live and work in our City.

To conclude, this budget is focused on and committed to directing resources where they are needed most and where they will have the biggest impact so that we can continue to make progress possible, together.

In terms of relevant legislation, this revised budget and 2020/21 MTREF is hereby tabled before Council, for adoption.