Some mayors ‘using rates for gains’

2008-03-12 00:00

MEC for Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mike Mabuyakhulu, says some mayors are deliberately misleading the public on the Municipal Property Rates Act and are using the issue for political point-scoring.

His comments were seen as a reference to comments made by Zululand District Municipality mayor and IFP chairwoman Zanele Magwaza-Msibi criticising the imposition of rates in rural areas.

“It would be tragic if we use this matter for party political scoring because there is no municipality where there are currently no rates. It is sad to see some mayors distorting these issues,” he said.

Addressing members of the Local Government and Traditional Affairs portfolio committee yesterday, he gave the assurance that about 95 to 97% of people living in areas under the iNgonyama Trust would be exempt from paying rates.

“Those eligible to pay rates are only those people who have leases that have been signed by the Ngonyama Trust Board,” he said.

Mabuyakhulu stressed that the power of exemption “lies fully” with the municipalities.

“The role of the department is to play a support role.

This is a national legislation which gives powers squarely to the municipalities which form another sphere of government,” he explained.

Apart from the appeals boards that have already been set up in some of the districts, he said he will appoint a review panel to advise him on the act.

This panel will be made of specialists and registered valuators.

To improve communication, Mabuyakhulu said over 600 councillors are undergoing training.

“There is no reason why this training could not be extended to traditional leaders,” Mabuyakhulu said.

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