BCM mayor Xola Pakati was accused of being undemocratic after failing to nominate rival party councillors to the metro’s bursary fund committee.
Pakati nominated ANC councillors Xolani Witbooi, Luleka Simon-Ndzele, ward 36 councillor Bongiwe Sauli and ward 35 councillor Siyabonga Skolo to the committee.
The committee sifts through applications for financial assistance to further tertiary studies.
For nine years BCM has given financial assistance to young people in the metro, both to study at university and in the form of experiential training and internships. The exclusion of opposition parties received wide criticism as fears of transparency and fairness were raised.
While opposition parties serve across council standing committees, in the municipal public accounts committee (Mpac) and sponsorship committees, Pakati could not say why the bursary committee only consisted of ANC members.
During the last council meeting, when a progress report for the 2017 academic year was tabled, DA councillor Annette Rademeyer asked: “Why are there no opposition parties in the committee?”
Pakati did not answer the question. Instead speaker Alfred Mtsi said he would “explore” the question and report back to council.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch yesterday Rademeyer said: “Opposition parties are represented in council committees and this includes the women’s caucus.
“But it seems like for controversial matters they don’t want opposition parties in those committees. It’s not what democracy is about. All parties should be represented in council committees.
“Once you exclude some people the danger is that there will be no transparency, no democracy. Right now it is a one-party thing and that is not how democracy works.
“This is a case of oversight and making sure that everyone gets an equal and fair chance.”
ACDP councillor Luke Quse echoed Rademeyer.
“As a matter of principle the committee can’t be made up of all ANC members – it should be reflective of the composition of the council.
“All council committees should be reflective of the council, I don’t understand why only ANC were nominated for this committee.”
The EFF said the exclusion of the opposition meant that some groups of the community were not represented. “One can’t help but wonder why other parties were not involved in the committee.
“Will it be used as a wheel of patronage to benefit certain people? We don’t know the criteria that were used to select these members,” said EFF caucus leader Chumani Matiwane.
While Mtsi is expected to report back to council later this month, spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the work done by the committee was transparent and conducted within municipal law.
“The committee is impartial and objective. The composition of the committee is about the capabilities of those given the task is to assist the executive mayor in youth development,” Ngwenya said.
“Capable men and women are performing a very noble task of ensuring that deserving young people have a chance in life to succeed.” — firstname.lastname@example.org