Date: 05 August 2022 By: Andries van Zyl
The ANC-led Makhado Municipal Council opted not to discuss their proposal to start charging local amateur sports clubs making use of municipal infrastructure exorbitant monthly rent when this item served before the council last week. Instead, the discussion was taken to postpone this agenda item until the council’s next meeting. The reason why this decision was taken remains unclear as a media enquiry regarding this remained unanswered at the time of our going to press.
The item served as Item A104.28.07.22 before the council on Thursday, 28 July, which deals with the council’s decision to terminate their 99-year lease-agreements contracts with 11 local amateur sports clubs, taken in May 2021. Following this council decision, notices of their intention to terminate the clubs’ lease agreements were served on the affected clubs.
Since then, much has happened. The Zoutpansberger has obtained a copy of a report tabled during the 563rd executive committee meeting held on 22 July. The report addresses the issue of the termination of the clubs’ lease agreements and recommends that the acting municipal manager not continue with the termination of the 99-year lease agreements. The first reason given for this recommendation is the financial implications for the municipality as they would need to compensate the clubs to the amount of R15 660 000 for improvements if they continued with early termination of the lease agreements. The second reason given is that, after serving notices of intention to terminate these lease agreements, the municipality’s administration realised that the municipality was not ready to manage the sports facilities in terms of capacity.
Because of the above reasons, the report then recommends that the acting municipal manager engage in negotiations with the clubs to change the current monthly rent being charged for the sports facilities, which is R131,10 per club. Should Council get their way, the new monthly rental amount (from lowest to highest) will shoot up to R800 for the clay pigeon club facility, R1 100 for the athletics club’s clubhouse, R2 200 for the cricket club, R10 080 for the tennis club, R13 630 for the racing-pigeon club facilities, R15 620 for the bowling club, R19 140 for the rugby club, and a ludicrous R38 760 and R48 220 per month for the squash and golf club respectively.
Although this agenda item was eventually not discussed during last week’s council meeting, local DA ward councillor Pierre Smalle was allowed to address the meeting on the issue.
In response, Smalle said that the council’s proposed new monthly rent was not in line with inflation and that the council’s valuation of the properties (used to determine the new rent amounts) did not take into account the purpose of the land in line with the credit and financial policies, which exempted places of religion, education and community spaces from paying market-related rates and taxes in some cases.
“It is the objective of the government to support the participation of all levels of sporting and recreational activities and to raise their profiles, getting the nation to participate in the facilities. These proposed baselines will lead to discriminate and alienate our communities from each other and from the municipality,” said Smalle.
Smalle said that their role as municipality was not to make money out of the sports facilities as the municipality had no responsibility regarding the upkeep and maintenance of these clubs. “…therefore, it is the responsibility of this municipality to promote sports and recreation that will lead to a thriving community,” said Smalle. Regarding this, he added, the power to determine any rate or cost did not lie with any individual. “That includes the acting municipal manager. Those rights lie solely in the hands of the full council,” said Smalle.
Smalle said that the DA would not support the proposed recommendation and called for a deviation as they expected the case would be litigated by the affected parties. “…we will not stand [by] and see that the municipality pay for legal cost, but that the people who are taking the decisions are held responsible,” said Smalle.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.