Durban — A recent ratepayers association meeting was described as radical and a game-changer to aid residents to get value for their money and end poor service delivery in the eThekwini Municipality.
Westville Ratepayers Association (WRA) chairperson Asad Gaffar said Sunday’s meeting was to advise residents that this is where “we stand as an association” and to assist people from all areas of Durban on the issue of rates.
“We are also saying that this money is not going into personal accounts and that we will administer the money to try to fix the city and to bring it back to where it should be,” said Gaffar.
He said that through the meeting, their aim is to fix various sectors from tourism to roads. Over 400 people attended the meeting and he said the residents who were there were keen and the turnout was great.
Gaffar explained that the Property Rates Act states what residents and the city need to do.
“The law says the municipality has to promulgate rate tariffs every year. WRA did an investigation in December and found the municipality failed to promulgate between 2005 and 2009. So whoever owned property in the city within that time is entitled to reclaim. If they do it as a collective under the WRA, we will give individuals legal protection,” said Gaffar.
In attendance was the National Taxpayers Union chairperson Jaap Kelder who held a similar meeting at Mossel Bay three months ago and at Koingnaas in the Northern Cape. Kelder advised them what to do. After that, Kelder said it was up to the ratepayers associations to follow up.
“As a result of eThekwini not promulgating for four years, the taxes can be reclaimed from the municipality,” said Kelder.
Phoenix Civic Movement (PCM) chairperson Vivian Pillay said the meeting did assist the PCM because as a civic movement, they were looking for legal expertise to lodge disputes with the eThekwini Municipality with regard to effective service delivery and rates issues.
Pillay said: “What I learnt from the meeting is that we as different ratepayers and civic organisations can promote civic pride among us in a democratic and dignified manner.
“We can add weight to our engagement with the eThekwini Municipality to drive action that addresses effective service delivery that we as a community have been forced to manage with increasing frequency in years.”
Gaffar said: “Jaap Kelder has over 30 years of good experience with dealing with service delivery matters against municipalities, so we will take direction from him.”
eThekwini Ratepayers Association and Reservoir Hills chairperson Ish Prahladh was not at the meeting but advised that all ratepayer associations need to do their homework when it comes to members paying back rates.
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