Parties slam city over debt

2014-07-24 00:00

MSUNDUZI’S R1,4 billion in outstanding debt was pounced on by opposition councillors yesterday in response to the mayor’s state of the city address.

DA councillor Bill Lambert said the municipality seemed to be incapable of taking the necessary steps to recover the money.

The party’s caucus leader said Mayor Chris Ndlela “failed to mention one of our great weaknesses” — the “ever escalating outstanding debt”, that appeared to “spiral ever upwards”.

Opposition parties yesterday aired a litany of what they described as municipal shortcomings in response to the address by the mayor late last month.

Lambert said meter reading was still fraught with problems and meter readers lacked the necessary training.

He suggested the council get a Geographical Information System (GIS) as a management tool that would map the exact location of water and electricity meters, their numbers, plus billing information.

Lambert also criticised the mayor’s speech for not mentioning the problem of illegal street trading. “There appears to be no will to stop this blight on our city.”

Other ills included poor refuse collection, power outages and the “appalling” lack of public toilets.

“Big business, medium or small business all have the same cry. It’s almost an impossibility to get rates clearance certificates. The delays are intolerable …” Lambert said.

He added that unauthorised buildings and illegal businesses were also a problem. “We are great at making bylaws but are incapable of policing them,” Lambert added.

Thokozani Magwaza of the National Freedom Party (NFP) highlighted the city’s traffic and cleanliness problems, and resultant chaos in the Pietermaritz, Berg and Retief streets precinct.

He said the mayor didn’t address the issue of job creation, and alleged that only people connected to the ANC got jobs in the municipality.

The IFP’s Dolo Zondi picked on poor ­water delivery, saying areas in Vulindlela still had no access to running water. He criticised a lack of sports facilities in the townships and the poor maintenance of existing facilities.

Radhia Singh from the Minority Front decried continuing parking woes in the city.

“We have paid parking controlled by a private company. How has this city benefited from this private company controlling parking?”

Singh and the DA’s Rooksana Ahmed both pointed to poor responses from the call centre.

Ndlela, in his reply to the debate, criticised the opposition. “We are not hiding from our weaknesses but working on them,” he said.

ANC councillors in turn pointed out that it was not all doom and gloom.

Msizi Ngcobo said the opposition ignored good stories. For example, over R400 million had been spent on overhauling the city’s ageing electricity infrastructure, building reservoirs, pump stations and housing. More than 48 km of gravel roads in the townships had been tarred, he added.

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