Opposition parties welcome eThekwini's R41.6bn budget, with reservations

2016-05-31 20:48
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Durban – Opposition parties on Tuesday welcomed, with reservations, eThekwini Municipality’s R41.6bn budget for the 2016/2017 financial year.

Mayor James Nxumalo presented his budget speech at the Durban City Hall, announcing that before the end of June the City expected to launch free WiFi in all the major townships, rural areas and areas around universities or where there was a high concentration of students.

Nxumalo said the City had moved from the Manase Report to a clean audit, achieved in the 2014/15 financial year.

"We are pleased that during our term of office, we witnessed an upward trend in compliance with key legislation. A good example of this is that there are no councillors doing business with the City. We hope that this achievement will be carried through in the new administration," said Nxumalo.

He said the budget had grown from R31.7bn in 2011 to R41.6bn this year.

Nxumalo said the rates increases were in line with inflation.

"The increase to the water tariff was linked to the increase in the Umgeni water tariff of 11.2%. Electricity tariff increase is due to the increase of 7.86% from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa. The tariff for sanitation is linked to the increase of the bulk water purchase."

The main tariff increases for 2016/2017 are 6.9% for assessment rates, 12.5% for residential water, 15.9% on business water, 7.64% for electricity charges, 9.9% for sanitation, and 7.9% for refuse removal.

DA leader in the province Zwakele Mncwango said Nxumalo’s budget offered little hope to unemployed residents.

"Of major concern is the City’s ever-declining rates base, as this is generally seen as the 'investment fund' of the future. The money that the City, however, does collect from its residents is regularly spent wastefully and residents are left with no improvements to their lives."

'Current backlog of half a million houses'

Mncwango said the budget did little to address the lack of housing in the city.

"Last year, the City failed to meet its target of building 12 000 houses. The ANC’s answer to reaching their target is to simply reduce it by 50%. The current backlog of half a million houses will take more than 50 years to eradicate," he said. 

National Freedom Party’s Bongiwe Mtshali said the party was happy with the budget, but that the money needed to be spent responsibly.

"We want to see the City addressing issues that eThekwini residents raised like housing. Housing developments are moving really slowly and people are tired of living in transit camps and informal settlements."

Mtshali said government clinics needed to be opened for 24 hours and that the city was full of litter.

Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mdu Nkosi said the City needed to address the protests.

"How can we have such a big budget, but people continue to protest for services? The City used to build 15 000 houses per annum and now it only builds 5 000.”

Nkosi said many areas in eThekwini were not serviced and that there was political instability in the municipality.

"This means that projects are stopped because of political influence and this is a big problem because it affects service delivery," said Nkosi.

Read more on:    durban  |  local government

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