Durban mayor bangs his own drum after a year in office but detractors claim little change is visible
Durban - ETHEKWINI Municipality has lost more than R4.7billion in potential revenue from its hospitality industry said the mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, while he provided an overview of his first year in office on Tuesday.
In addition, he said during the Easter period, eThekwini lost out on 165 000 visitors to the city which led to a decline of R300million in direct spend and R600m in contribution towards the gross domestic product of the city.
“There was also a loss of 1400 employment opportunities.”
The suspension of major events, such as the Vodacom Durban July, Africa’s Travel Indaba and the Comrades Marathon, due to Covid-19, contributed to the loss of revenue generation for the hospitality industry.
To mitigate the impact, the municipality held virtual events and host the “My City My Heritage” campaign this month.
Kaunda also said the city planned to have a “Government Mall”, where various departments of the municipality would be located in a central place.
Kaunda said, on a positive note, the municipality has been able to stabilise the city within a short period of time and created a positive climate that had investors recommitting their investments, despite the impact of Covid-19.
However, opposition parties and ratepayers had a poor view of Kaunda’s time in office.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham felt Kaunda was more affable and co-operative than his predecessor Zandile Gumede but said there was little change seen when it came to key indicators, such as corruption and public transport.
“The problem eThekwini had was that the head of eThekwini was changed but there was no substantial structural change,” said Graham.
IFP executive committee member Mdu Nkosi also took a dim view of the mayor’s efforts thus far. He cited the problems with the spending of funds for Covid-19.
“He is good at calling the media for briefings, but people are tired of nice speeches, they want action,” he said.
Nkosi said there were areas in Durban, such as Mzinyathi, where people paid rates but still had bad roads.
Drummond, Peacevale and Cliffdale Ratepayers Association chairperson Carol Bailey said they had many potholes on their roads which they ended up fixing themselves. Bailey also complained of refuse collection problems.
“We want to see infrastructure maintenance. I’ve seen no improvements in the situation in the past year.”
Bluff Ratepayers Association chairperson Ivor Aylward said the municipality has been unresponsive to their problems and also felt there was a problem of accountability within the city.
“There was no improvement and, in fact, things got worse in the Bluff area. People want to choose people who will be directly accountable to them and not to a party, as is the case with ward councillors right now,” he said.
* The city has begun to in-source refuse collection which has affected areas such as uMlazi.
* Allocated R140 million towards repairing last year’s storm damage and gave building materials to 3 000 families who were affected.
* The city plans to upgrade 21km of roads in townships and rural areas from gravel to tar at a cost of R53 million.
* The municipality plans to increase the number of wi-fi hot spots from 130 to 750 in rural and urban areas.
* Building owners have responded to the eThekwini municipality’s efforts to tackle problem buildings. Six buildings have now been made “more aesthetically pleasing”.