Durban – The eThekwini Municipality is in a state of collapse due to corruption, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.
"This perhaps partly explains why Mayor Zandile Gumede has failed to table an internal audit report about financial mismanagement in the 2016 instalment of the Essence Festival," said provincial DA leader Zwakele Mncwango.
Leaked to the media in mid-August, the report details how irregularities and collusive procurement practices and lavish spending on VIP functions led to a total bill of about R95m "for the festival which could not even attract a crowd of five thousand people", according to Mncwango.
"Dodgy tenders to companies for ad hoc security, refreshments at the beachfront restaurants, R18m in licensing fees and a hefty R30m for artists are some of the glaring irregularities uncovered by the investigators," he said.
Mncwango was briefing the media about the state of the municipality since Gumede became mayor a year ago.
The R95m loss during the festival could have gone a long way in alleviating some of the most pressing service delivery challenges in the metro, Mncwango said.
"Unfortunately, what eThekwini has is a government that prioritises lavish spending on self-serving social functions while the youth struggles to find jobs," he said.
Mncwango accused Gumede of taking unlawful and irrational decisions since she took over as mayor exactly a year ago.
"Those decisions are the reasons why many investors are taking their business away from the city," he said.
The official reports on the purchase of four armoured vehicles for the Durban metro police at an amount of R19.9m still remain outstanding, according to Mncwango.
"Why a metropolitan police force would need its own armoured brigade, except to subdue crowds unhappy with service delivery," he said.
Gumede also failed to explain why R1.2m was spent on procuring 20 partially trained police dogs.
"If the information received is correct, an additional R3m will be forked out on training the handlers and dogs," he said.
Mncwango said some financial decisions by Gumede "have had a truly sad outcome particularly with the lowering of the pensioners' rebate threshold".
"The financial difficulties this ANC-led decision has inflicted is enormous, with pensioners of all walks of life being forced to now sell up as their rates skyrocket by up to 30%, with no rebate to assist," he said.
Mncwango said the DA is currently consulting with its legal team about the last minute cancellation of the social cohesion conference in June.
"She must be held personally liable for the cancellation of the conference. We believe that someone must account for the cancellation," he said.
The conference was also cancelled on May 29.
Mncwango also blamed Gumede for failing to deliver essential services "which has led to the current violent land invasion protests in the city".
"People in informal settlements are waiting for houses and electricity. Politicians have failed to fulfil their promises," he said.
He said the mayor scored only 2 out 10 in a DA researched score card regarding her performance since she took over as mayor.
"Under her leadership, the city is in a state of collapse," he said.
Gumede’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede rejected “the preposterous statement” made by the DA.
“By virtue of being opposition the DA is an opponent of the ruling party and it is therefore impossible for us to expect praises from an opponent,” he said.
A lot more has been achieved under mayor Gumede’s leadership, Gumede said.
“Indeed there has been some challenges but she remains optimistic that what was promised in the ANC 2016 local government election manifesto will be achieved,” he said.