Don’t sell us out, plead City ratepayers

Durban City Hall. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Durban City Hall. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Published May 3, 2024


Durban — The eThekwini Ratepayers Protest Movement has urged all opposition parties to reject the city’s budget if it does not come with a zero tariff increase.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda will on Friday (today) present a R67.3 billion budget to a full council meeting.

In a statement released on Thursday, the city said the budget would come with tariff adjustments which suggested the City may have made some concessions on tariff increases following budget consultative imbizos.

Residents pushed for a zero increase on Thursday calling on the parties not to sell them out.

In the preliminary budget, the City proposed a 15% increase on water, 14% on electricity, 13% on sanitation services as well as 8% on waste removal and property rates.

Speaking to the Daily News, ratepayers movement chairperson Asad Gaffar said residents were expecting the parties to fight in their corner and reject the budget if it still comes back with an increase in tariffs.

Gaffar, who also leads the Westville Ratepayers Association, said as residents they had done enough to reject the increases but the ball was now in the court of the opposition parties to block them.

“If these parties truly represent us as they always claim we expect them to fight in our corner and reject the budget unless it has zero tariffs increase. We urge them not to sell us out. If they cannot listen to us they must tell us who they represent in the council,” said Gaffar.

He also called on councillors to vote with their conscience if their parties chose to sell the residents out.

The DA said it would vote against the budget, while IFP leader Mdu Nkosi said their caucus was going to meet on Thursday night and take a decision.

Speaking for the smaller parties bloc Philani Mavundla said they would also reject the budget. ActionSA’s Alan Beesley concurred with the DA and smaller parties to reject the budget. Beesley said that even when the preliminary budget was presented ActionSA rejected it and the party would also reject it on Friday (today).

During a picket on Tuesday before the State of the City Address, the DA chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal Dean Macpherson urged smaller parties not to ‘sell out’ the residents of eThekwini and approve the budget.

Gaffar also wrote a letter to Speaker Thabani Nyawose requesting a presentation to the council before the budget. The Speaker rejected the request.

Gaffar said the speaker cited ‘chaos’ as a reason if he was allowed to address the council, saying all other associations may want to do the same and he would have no reason to reject their requests after granting the same to him.

However, Gaffar had not given up the fight, saying he was not buying the Speaker’s explanation which was an excuse.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said Nyawose had formally responded to Gaffar’s request, and the speaker’s response remains unchanged.

The municipality hosted public consultation sessions with all stakeholders, giving them an opportunity to engage and make a submission on the draft Budget.

On April 22, an opportunity for eThekwini Ratepayers was created through a public consultation process, where all eThekwini Ratepayers Associations were invited to table and address their budget concerns with the City, Sisilana said.

“Legislation and the Constitution make provision that the approval of a municipal budget is a non-delegable function of the municipal council, meaning approval thereof is its sole statutory function.

“The 2024/2025 budget shall be tabled today (on Friday) before the Municipal Council for it to exercise its legislative function, since all statutory public participation processes pertaining to the budget have been complied with,” Sisilana said.

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