City’s pricey breakaway to draft budget

2015-04-24 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality is spending close to R100 000 on a two-day out-of-town planning session.

About 33 people, including the ­municipality’s senior management team and executive committee members, are staying at the Lythwood Lodge in the Midlands. This will cost the ratepayers R94 000.

The DA and the municipality defended the stay. Such planning sessions, they said, are budgeted for and necessary to allow the management to focus on planning away from the hustle of their daily environment.

IFP councillor Dolo Zondi however criticised the session, saying it was a waste of ratepayers’ money. “I cannot imagine what good reason they have for that. The council has many facilities they could have used. If they did not want to be in the council chamber, they could have used the boardroom at the Harry Gwala Stadium,” he said.

Zondi who has been at the council for more than 10 years said it was the first time he heard that Exco members had to go out of town to discuss a budget.

He said the municipality needed to remember where it was coming from, as it was such spending that had bankrupted the municipality in 2010.

DA councillor Dave Ryder said the planning session was standard procedure and was budgeted for. “The senior management very seldom goes away. In any large organisation, the management goes away to a quiet place to focus on their business.

“Every year they [council] go away to prepare the budgets and the presentation that will be made to full council. The discussions are confidential,” he said.

This was echoed by acting municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda who said this was an annual strategic planning session for the municipal leadership. “It is necessary for the leadership to conduct an annual strategic planning session to firstly assess the progress that has been made within the current ­financial year and secondly to formulate strategies to implement for the coming financial year …

“It is common business practice for organisations (public and private) to conduct annual strategic planning ­sessions and Msunduzi Municipality is no different,” she said.

Asked about the progress on the budget discussions, municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, said they will know if there are any major adjustments on the budget once the discussions are completed today.

• According to their website, Lythwood Lodge is also used as a “Country Conference Venue”. It boasts “a great venue, that cooks delicious food, has a spacious conference hall and break-away rooms, luxury accommodation.

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