Durban - NEWLY-appointed eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has reinstated the finance portfolio committee by amalgamating it with the security and emergency services portfolio committee.
It will be chaired by deputy mayor and former finance MEC Belinda Scott.
Scott was welcomed as a chairperson but the amalgamation was criticised by the opposition parties at a meeting to appoint eThekwini committee chairpersons at Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday.
The finance committee, according to the opposition, was disbanded by former mayor Zandile Gumede in 2016 despite warnings that the move would have a detrimental impact on the city’s finance department.
Nicole Graham, DA caucus leader in eThekwini, welcomed the re-instatement and said the process should be handled with urgency.
“This is something that we have been fighting for since 2016 because it was a move by Zandile (Gumede) and those close to her to get rid of that committee. It’s definitely something that we support because the fact that it was done away with was a clear move to reduce oversight and accountability regarding the city’s finances,” Graham said after the meeting.
She said there was a need to have the right leadership for the committee. “Putting in someone like Belinda Scott, who has a lot of experience in that regard, is a very promising move.
“That committee now needs to buckle down and probe what has been going on in terms of the city’s expenditure, debt, and we will make sure that we have the best possible team on that committee to really fight for accountability and transparency,” Graham said.
The former mayor and her spokesperson Mthunzi Gumede could not be reached to give reasons why the finance committee was disbanded.
Mdu Nkosi, IFP eThekwini councillor, said reinstating the finance committee was long overdue but criticised the amalgamation.
“It’s absence has led to officials doing as they wish and this has led to most activities only coming to the public at a later stage when the damage has already been done. That’s why I propose that the committee must return as a standalone committee so that it has enough time to scrutinise finance reports and to see any criminal activities from within,” Nkosi said.
Kaunda said officials would look into all the legalities of bringing back the finance committee on its own and the matter would be dealt with at the next executive committee meeting on Friday.
Other appointed chairpersons are:
Ntokozo Sibiya: community services committee.
Thanduxolo Sabelo: human settlements and infrastructure.
Nompumelelo Sithole: governance and human resources.
Sipho Kaunda: economic development and planning.