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  • Writer's pictureHoedspruit Chamber Sakekamer

Summary of draft IDP/Budget for 2023/24 - May 2023

Maruleng Municipality recently invited residents of Ward 1 to attend the draft budget & IDP for 2023/24 discussion. Mopani district officials were also in attendance but unfortunately Mopani’s mayor couldn’t attend.
Only about 90 people showed up to the meeting which was a very disappointing turn out seeing as Ward 1 members are raising numerous concerns daily, but do not attend specially arranged public participation meetings whereby these concerns can be addressed by officials.

The floor was opened to questions and the following was raised (in summary as some people spoke more than the 3 minutes allocated):

1) Money is set aside for maintenance, however very little preventative maintenance is done. Most of the work is reactive and the cost of reactive work is much higher than preventative work. What is the plan to break down the budget for this much needed item?

2) The document provided to participants in the meeting is apparently not complete but has been printed. Did officials stop to think that these type of printing costs are wasting necessary resources that can be better allocated to save projects. Why is the municipality wasting money on these banalities? Where is the additional care for the disabled? Why are you not paying attention to the Scotia water crisis? Why are you abusing money?

3) There is a huge water problem in ward 2 (Kampersrus) and the municipality is not spending enough to resolve this issue. What happened to the boreholes? The transformer installed to power the boreholes were stolen. Why is the municipality not coming up with a faster solution?

4) Where is the money from 2014 that was promised for the Scotia/Sedawa water supply? What was the money spent on? A 60mm pipe was promised but only 20mm installed? Can Mopani please allow Maruleng to take over the water responsibilities?

5) 8 Boreholes were done by Mopani circa 2015 but they never worked. A document with proof on the inspection of these boreholes were handed to the Mopani officials and asked when the projects will be completed. After a recent strategic session in Hazyview where this same question was posed, Mopani promised feedback but none has been received up to date.

6) The Hoedspruit Fire Station truck has been in for servicing over a year now and after numerous calls and request for feedback, none has been received. When will this be resolved? It is imperative for our community with the airport that we have proper support in case of an emergency.

7) Residents of Maruleng currently pays water and taxes to Maruleng, who in turns pays it Mopani. However, DOD (air force base) confirmed that they supply the water to town and have to date not received any money for these services. Residents would like to know, where this money gets paid to?

8) Please give an update on the water & sewerage upgrade project that is currently being planned and driven by DOD & Sanedi.

9) Can anyone provide us with the calculation of how the property valuations are being done?

10) What is being done about fire safety? Maruleng should buy the treatment plant from AFB and run it themselves.

11) On the document there is no revenue line item for rates & taxes. Can we get the average % increase of these fees in the coming year?

12) Plastic view residents posed questions in their mother tongue. The questions were not translated by any officials but it could be deducted that these residents are unhappy about their situation and is demanding a solution.

13) Management skills on projects in recent years, have been seriously lacking. We expect the municipalities to vet contractors better in the future. The roads budget makes no sense as some stretches of road that are half the size of others have double the amount allocated to them. Some state exorbitant amounts for only 1km stretch of road. Please revise the roads budget as it isn’t correct. The state of the fire department is unacceptable – the skills, vehicles, etc cannot be listed under the unfunded section, it has to be changed to a funded item ASAP. The municipalities need to be aware, that if an incident occur and a fire truck is not available to assist, the affected parties can sue the municipality.

14) The GIS allocation is way too high and can be reallocated elsewhere. There is no budget for skills development? MLM project allocation in MLM document has no skills development allocated. Please justify the other project amounts. Emergency services is necessary during public participation sessions as there might be an incident. Where is the disaster management plan?

15) There is a great concern about the home affairs at Thusanong.

The answer session was done by various officials and the summary of answers were as follows (in no particular order to the questions answered):

1) Plastic View - in next 12 months to get better settlement. Many people have pledged to help get a better solution.

2) Bango settlement, demarcated and sold to rural development. Will relocate to new settlement. Dealing with it separately.

3) Home Affairs Thusanong, busy with improvement. Mobile services coming in to offer ID services.

4) Roads budget - distances not correct. Will work on budget and rework figures. Correct version will be given at rep session

5) Scotia - residents requested to pay for services to include refuse removal. Must change into formal settlement to acquire these services. Will work with people to resolve these problems

6) Bursaries - R2m budget. Local level cater for undergraduate. Will accept challenge to include others. Meeting with higher education to nominate 4 schools/villages to put up skills centres. With international airport succeeding, we need to upskill local people for job creation.

7) Rates & taxes - IDP of local municipal is included. Indigent process important

8) Preventative maintenance - it is a problem. Not meeting with communities as frequent as necessary so cannot respond to issues raised. Visiting problem areas as much as possible, for ex. Kampersrus. Asking for patience but will continue to look into issues.
9) Scotia - awaiting Eskom to upgrade transformer to boost pressure. Pipes have been done 95%, awaiting electrical. Sewer done up to 24% . Kampersrus have approached court for interdict. Components have already been implemented and COGSTA have been approached for additional funds to complete. Almost R30m have been spent.

9) Hoedspruit pipeline, projects put on hold for reservoir in 2021 due to land issues. Currently in discussion with Public works for acquiring the land. Asking COGSTA to get additional funding to finish. Issues to be resolved - land issues and funding

10) Boreholes - team will come to area to assess and investigate why not finish. 23 May to do feasibility study in Drakensig for water issues. 31 Oct 2022 site visit will be investigated to make sure correct procedures will be followed in the future.

11) Management skills regarding projects. Not really addressed. Comment was just to investigate and try harder.
All recommendations will be acknowledged. Practically implemented projects will be done, those that are not feasible, will not be implemented. There should be continuous communications with community to eradicate misunderstandings and promote transparency.
We agree with reactive measures rather than preventative. 10% budget is ringfenced finances for maintenance. Acknowledge sewer network is old/outdated. R4b underway for these infrastructure issues, may not fix all, but will try and get to as much as possible with available budget. Taking note of Scotia and water issues.
Boreholes need electric licenses which need to be issued by Eskom who faces their own challenges. Looking into entering into other partnerships for electricity. The delay is from Eskom’s side. Looking into Solar system. Theft of solar devices has been a problem.
Disaster management/fire - Mopani dealing with that issues. Engaged with stakeholders to help in the meantime.

Water authority to MLM - process must be started by MLM themselves. DWS will verify if MLM has capacity, they will allow change of authority. Minister will make this decision after investigation.
Average rate increase of 5.3% is planned for the 2023/24 year.
We will be looking into AI for the GIS allocation.

Skills development - R600k allocated (other sources). Might get additional from discretionary funds if the municipalities can show successful project completion.

MDM welcomes comments and concerns - thanks to all. Will try their best. Understand that unhappiness is fringe benefit of being a leader.

A word of gratitude to senior citizens and all for their time and participation. Today is better than yesterday. Thanks for defending the democracy.

In summary, many found the answers to be too ambiguous and need more details. We await the invitation from Maruleng to present the questions and answers that was currently submitted via HCS and also the invitation to discuss changes to the draft budget before final approval.
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