Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has condemned the R107m in national housing funding cuts to the City, as part of nationwide cuts to grant-funding for municipalities and provinces. Speaking during a City Council sitting to pass an adjustment budget due to the cuts, Mayor Hill-Lewis said the City will use all legal means at its disposal to oppose further expected cuts to Cape Town’s equitable share funding when the main national budget is tabled next year. These additional cuts are expected to run into the hundreds of millions.
‘This adjustment budget is necessitated because of significant in-year budget cuts passed down to us by the National Treasury, and cutting specifically our grant funding for housing projects, informal settlement upgrade projects, and community facilities.
‘Usually, the grants confirmed in the February national budget are honoured for the year, but this time, the parlous state of our national finances has meant that National Treasury must urgently find cuts to make.
‘What you should do in times of financial crisis is protect essential services and cut everything that isn’t essential. This is what our government would do.
‘Surely, if you claim to care about poor people, that is what you must do. Protect them. Protect their services.
‘But this national government has not done that. Instead, it has pushed the lion’s share of the cuts down on to provincial and local governments, where money is spent on direct basic service delivery,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.
Hill-Lewis said cuts were made to critical service delivery funding in provinces and municipalities, rather than dealing with bloated, wasteful government at a national level.
‘Just think of all the ineffectual government departments in what has today become one of the largest, most bloated cabinets in the entire world. Just think of all those deputy ministers.
‘Just stop and think about this for a second: Instead of doing even a mildly difficult thing, like cutting the wasteful department of a Cabinet colleague, the choice is rather to cut spending which goes directly to improving the lives of the poor in the most tangible ways – new houses, new taps, new lights, new parks, new roads in informal settlements so emergency services can get in,’ said the Mayor.
Cuts to Cape Town’s national funding share include R37m from the Informal Settlement Upgrading Partnership Grant, and R70m from the Urban Settlements Development Grant.
‘We will also not remain quiet about the ANC’s role in making these fundamentally anti-poor decisions. Yesterday, Wednesday 6 December, in Parliament, they had an opportunity to reject the budget that was proposed by the Cabinet but failed to do so,’ said Hill-Lewis.
Meanwhile, more than R1 billion has been cut in national funding to the Western Cape Government. Mayor Hill-Lewis said Premier Alan Winde had the City’s full support in declaring an intergovernmental dispute.
Hill-Lewis added that Cape Town will continue to advocate for increased Equitable Share funding, following census data revealing the city is on track to become SA’s most populous, now with just 100 000 residents less than Joburg.
‘My message to this national government and all who support these anti-poor cuts is this: The main national budget is coming in February. We are watching and waiting.
‘Give us our just and equitable share, reflecting our size and our population and our growth, or we will join Premier Winde in his action against you.
‘If our Metro’s equitable share were to shrink in February’s budget by anywhere near the amount that it is reportedly going to be cut, you can expect swift action from us too to protect spending for poor communities.
‘If we can no longer simply appeal to your conscience to get your priorities right, we will turn to the legal processes at our disposal,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.