Sometimes in life there are difficult decisions to take and it is not always easy to pick the correct one. But at other times it is really really easy and the correct decision is very obvious.
In June, the Bitou councillors, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, were faced with two easy decisions. They had to decide whether, under the prevailing circumstances where businesses are failing and people are losing their jobs, they should use those peoples’ money to award themselves, who are already some of the highest paid individuals in Plettenberg Bay, with an increase in salary, or whether they should forego their increase so that the money is available for the benefit of those whom they serve.
They chose to give themselves an increase.
Their second choice, under the same circumstances, was whether or not they should use the municipality’s money to provide the mayor with yet another luxury limousine, bearing in mind of course, that since August 2016, the mayor has already managed to blow through several million rands’ worth of motor car expenses, and extend the lease for the vehicle for the deputy mayor. Furthermore, the mayor already receives a salary in the amount of R900,000 and as one of the best remunerated persons in the municipal area, could reasonably be expected to provide his own transport. The ANC councillors decided that to spend R700,000 in this way was the best way they could think of spending the municipality’s money.
These decisions are so obviously to the benefit of the councillors and to the detriment of those of whose interests they have sworn an oath to place before all else, that we have felt obliged to request them to rescind these decisions. We will keep you informed of how the individual councillors respond to our request.
Our letter is below.
11 July 2020
Dear Bitou Councillors,
We are currently engaged in an examination of the current budget and will be reporting on it to the community in the near future. Our purpose in writing this letter is to call on you to review all discretionary and vanity projects as a matter of urgency, and eliminate them wherever possible.
In this category we include the acquisition of a new mayoral car for the mayor and salary increases for Councillors. Eliminating these items of extravagant expenditure would trim roughly R1.5 million from expenses for which budgetary provision is made.
That such items can seriously be approved in these troubled times is startling. Even to contemplate them is to demonstrate a manifest lack of concern and accountability on the part of Council.
You have been told by the MEC to treat our association with respect and take it into your confidence. If you are listening to this instruction, you will give us appropriate assurances as soon as possible.