eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede

DURBAN - eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has ordered a review aimed at curbing excessive spending by the municipality.

“We all need to tighten our budgets and the municipality is no different. We cannot ask residents to be careful with their spending if we don’t lead by example.

“I’ve asked for a review of how our city vehicles are used by installing vehicle tracking systems to monitor usage. We are also going to ensure only essential trips are made, to avoid fleet abuse.

“We will look at security costs, overtime payments, fuel consumption, catering and the hiring of consultants, which costs the city a lot,” said Gumede.

She recently outlined the city’s R45 billion budget for the 2017/18 financial year, which included cost containment measures.

Other reviews include a “productivity” analysis of staff and their potential redeployment; a clampdown on the theft of water and electricity; strengthening of debt control policies to address the non-payment of utilities accounts and a reassessment of events held by the city.

“We need to look at the events, not to cancel our contractual obligations but to ensure we are still comfortable with the cost benefit, especially given the current economy.

“We need to review the economic impact of hosting some events, examine the expenditure and income projections and look at BEE opportunities in this sector,” added Gumede.

The budget is Gumede’s first since taking over as mayor in August and follows the city achieving clean audit status for two years.

Despite the warning about spending, Gumede reassured eThekwini residents the city remained committed to economic transformation and other programmes intended to address poverty.

“We must manage our finances prudently but ensure our programmes to create employment and stimulate the development of small, medium and micro enterprises continue," she said.

“By accelerating transformation towards an inclusive economy, we will ensure all participate. By training our unemployed youth, we will give them hope. We cannot give up on them, even in tough times,” said Gumede.

Ethekwini has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 16.5%, compared to 31.4% 10 years ago.

Some of the municipality’s programmes aimed at job creation include employing graduate engineers through a water mentorship programme, using community-based contractors on rural projects, skills training for artisans and the roll-out of the Expanded Public Works Programme to provide jobs and skills for the unemployed and marginalised.

Previously marginalised women-owned businesses will benefit from state business, with plans to increase training for unemployed women.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE