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Parties warn against rates boycott in eThekwini

Dozens of ratepayers have stages protest marches to the Durban City Hall on Friday to raise their objections to proposed tariff increases in eThekwini Municipality. Picture: Supplied

Dozens of ratepayers have stages protest marches to the Durban City Hall on Friday to raise their objections to proposed tariff increases in eThekwini Municipality. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 28, 2023


Durban — Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC) leader Patrick Pillay says the DLC supports the call for further engagements with the municipality until an amicable solution is found.

“DLC never supported the municipality’s call for a rates increase proposed in May. We warn those that are calling for the boycott that this is not a solution to the problem. Instead, utilities will be disconnected, people will lose their houses like it happened before.

“Instead, these organisations must empower the residents with knowledge on how things should be done, instead of calling for a rates boycott,” Pillay said.

This comes after the IFP issued a statement saying that it noted with great concern the increasing calls by ratepayer bodies and civic movements for a rates boycott in eThekwini.

IFP councillor Jonathan Annipen said this was in the face of massive tariff increases post the 2023/24 budget implementation, poor fiscal management, and collapsing municipal infrastructure.

“In the budget debate of May 2023, when the IFP for the first time since democracy voted against the budget, we warned eThekwini mayor councillor Mxolisi Kaunda that such a revolt was imminent, but as is customary by the ANC, it brushed off (the issue) and arrogantly presumed that they would lord their undemocratic approach on our citizens and remain unchallenged.

“The IFP fully supports any project that promotes accountability of public office bearers and public funds and promotes the democratic right citizens possess to practise peaceful forms of protest.

“Equally, we are alive to the fact that such a boycott will have irremediable ramifications of the management of the city and its infrastructure and, therefore, places the city in an infinitely precarious position.

“We have observed the efforts made by civic bodies to inform residents of what are the legislative requirements for such an undertaking in order to participate in this boycott, but we fear that not enough has been done to educate residents on the consequences of failing to abide by the obligatory framework for such action.

“Particularly, where the withholding of payments of rates and services are concerned without conforming to the principle of reserving such payment to a trust account mandated for such a purpose.

“We are calling on local ratepayer bodies to engage the IFP to facilitate more awareness around this matter, and equip citizens to brace themselves for the potential onslaught from the City which will follow such a definitive revolt.”

The DA caucus leader Thabani Mthethwa said the DA sympathised with ratepayers and understood their frustrations considering chronic lack of service delivery in eThekwini.

“These are the frustrations that we as DA councillors face everyday when fighting for residents to receive proper services from the municipality.

“We would encourage individual ratepayers to seek proper legal guidance and advice before they decide to participate in any action.”

Chairperson of Reservoir Hills and eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association (ERRA) Ish Pradladh said: “I am sure the IFP knows about the Constitution and its rights.

“My stance as the ERRA president is negotiating with the speaker and heads of departments to make sure service delivery is on the up, plus negotiate with the City how the poor are going to overcome the high tariff increases and to make sure their family lives are not strained”.

ActionSA KZN chairperson Zwakele Mncwango said ActionSA voted against the budget, but the municipality went ahead and implemented the rate hikes.

Mncwango asked how could the residents be expected to pay for the rates when they are still faced with problems such as sewage leaks, poor road infrastructure, high crime rate, joblessness.

“As responsible leaders we ask Kaunda to engage with the ratepayers associations and civic organisations to find solutions to this impasse.

“The rates boycott will have negative repercussions, such as financial struggles for the City to deliver on its mandate.

“As leaders we need to sit down with the ratepayers associations, civic organs and the municipality and find lasting solutions to this problem.”

EFF eThekwini caucus leader councillor Themba Mvubu said that as responsible citizens, it is not wise to throw your toys out because you are unhappy with a certain situation.

“It is the same residents that will be complaining that they don’t receive proper service delivery when the municipality struggles to provide these services.

“For the civic organisations and ratepayers’ associations to engage in politics of the City, this is tantamount to interference.

“As the EFF, we agree with the IFP for saying that rates boycott will likely have negative consequences for the residents,” Mvubu stressed.

African Democratic Change (ADeC) President Visvin Reddy said that ADeC supports the Westville Ratepayers Association’s call to withhold rates in a trust account until such time the municipality rates impasse is resolved.

They have always taken a stand against the rates hikes, and supported the ratepayers, advocating for better services.

“Our commitment was shown when we voted against the City’s budget and labelled it an insult to all ratepayers.

“We have always advocated for the City to treat ratepayers with respect and offer them value for their money.

“We will actively facilitate engagements between the municipality leadership led by the ANC, DA, IFP and the EFF and ratepayers organisations to find amicable solutions to this challenge.

“We understand that the current economic climate is tough, but we would like to reassure the residents that ADeC stands by them every step of the way. We urge them to stay calm, and we will keep them apprised,” Reddy stressed.

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