eThekwini municipality denies planning luxury cruise for councillors

2016-03-02 12:32

Durban – The eThekwini municipality has distanced itself from claims that it was planning a luxury three-day boat cruise for 40 councillors at a cost of R160 000.

"The municipality would like to place on record that it is not funding any sea cruise," spokesperson Thozi Mthethwa said in a statement on Wednesday.

A source in the economic development committee, who asked not to be named, on Wednesday told News24 that the eThekwini maritime cluster proposed that the cruise form part of the first Annual Durban Maritime Summit, which was held on February 24 and 25.

The councillors and officials were expected to board the MSC Sinfonia for a cruise to the Portuguese Islands between March 4 and 7.

"When the matter was brought to the committee last year, there was no cost implication. However, when the invites came out this year, the total cost was R7 500 per delegate," the source said.

The city was apparently planning to spend R4 000 per councillor on the cruise. It had already spent R3 500 per person for the two-day summit.

DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango said he would not allow his party’s councillors to go on a cruise during a voter registration weekend.

"Every councillor should be on the ground encouraging people to exercise their right to vote, irrespective of which party they want them to vote for.

"One minute we are talking about implementing austerity measures and then the city wants to splurge money on trips when people do not even have basic services."

Mncwango believed the ANC was using the trip to fight its internal battles.

"How can you have so many councillors away during registration weekend? They want to sabotage regional chairperson Zandile Gumede. This is their way of weakening her faction," said Mncwango.

The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said two of the party’s councillors had written letters to the party’s national executive explaining why they needed to go. They were still waiting for a response, Nkosi said.

The NFP’s Bongiwe Mtshali said councillors should be in their wards during the registration weekend.

"This is a waste of money and the ANC does not put its citizens first when they make decisions."

The ANC Youth League said the trip was a case of reckless spending.

"The money spent on this fancy trip could have been used to finance up to six students in an institution of higher learning and a caring municipality would rather finance students than some cocktail trip," it said in a statement.

It would call on ANC members not to vote for those who went on trips funded with taxpayer’s money, given the high levels of youth unemployment.

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