Controversy over parade to celebrate 20 years of democracy

2014-01-28 00:00

A SURPRISE carnival parade will wind its way through the streets of Durban tomorrow to mark the official opening of the first council meeting of 2014 and to celebrate “South Africa’s 20 years of democracy”.

The spectacle will include colourful floats, Metro police performing special drills with their motorcyles and horses, as well as a brass band and dancers. Traffic is expected to come to standstill during the morning rush hour as the parade, which begins at 8 am, crosses the city from King Dinizulu Park to Pixley KaSeme Street ending at the Durban City Hall.

Over 300 people are expected to participate in the hour-long parade led by mayor James Nxumalo, including Exco members, speaker Logie Naidoo, councillors and representatives from the various municipal departments.

But opposition parties are raining on the parade, saying it could prove a financial liability for ratepayers.

DA executive council member Heinz de Boer said there was no need for the city to have a parade at the opening of the council. “There are financial implications to the parade, although we have not been given the details.”

De Boer said Durban has nothing to celebrate while communities live in unbearable conditions. “Not everything is bad, but we should spend more time developing strategies to better the lives of our citizens.

“While it’s nice to have a parade to mark 20 years of our democracy more effort is needed to deal with challenges facing our people,” said De Boer. He said municipal employees would be attending the parade and this would hamper city services on Wednesday.

However, Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay welcomed the parade and said it would be an eye-opener for the city as the municipality’s accomplishments would be highlighted.

He acknowledged there was a lot yet to be accomplished. “We need to work towards the reduction of poverty and push frontiers of service delivery,” Pillay said.

Naidoo said there were minimal financial implications with regard to the parade. “The city is using its own resources”, including Metro police officials and members of the fire department. “We will only pay for the provision of screens outside Church Walk near the city hall.

“We want the communities to view the council proceedings and to encourage them to participate on local government issues,” he said.

Naidoo said it was important to for the city to celebrate the country’s achievements after 20 years of democracy. “This is our first sitting of council and it will be held slightly differently to encourage community participation.”

The full council sitting will start at 10 am and will be addressed by the mayor, who, according to a statement “will set the tone for the year and outline projects aimed at fast-tracking service delivery”.

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