Durban — The Westville Ratepayers’ Association (WRA) says eThekwini Municipality’s decision to cut off services to some of its members over their rates boycott is tantamount to declaring war on residents who provide it with revenue.
This is after the City disconnected services to some ratepayers who have joined the association’s rates boycott.
The WRA has since lodged an application in the Durban High Court to stop the City from disconnecting services to ratepayers who have joined the rates boycott.
In terms of the boycott, the ratepayers have withheld payments of their municipal bills.
Instead, they are depositing the funds into a trust account pending the finalisation of their dispute. Their dispute is over the tariff increases passed in the City’s budget.
WRA leader Asad Gaffar said, “For the municipality to take unilateral action and cut off those residents who have decided to pay their monies into the trust account, and to not pay it to the municipality because of poor service delivery, corruption and wasteful expenditure by the municipality, is tantamount to declaring a war on the very same residents who provide it with revenue.”
Gaffar said the waste of taxpayers’ monies needed to stop.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Civic Movement leader Vivian Pillay blamed eThekwini Municipality for the poor attendance at the rates meeting at Redfern Community Hall on Friday, saying that the community was not properly informed about it.
“The meeting at Redfern Hall was a blatant disregard and deceit towards the residents of Phoenix.
“I bet (eThekwini mayor Mxolisi) Kaunda will now think that the residents of Phoenix are not concerned about all these service delivery issues taking place all over eThekwini Municipality,” Pillay said.
This comes after eThekwini Municipality issued a statement on Saturday, saying that the ratepayers and residents’ associations had committed to work with the City to address service delivery challenges.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said Kaunda and council speaker Thabani Nyawose met the eThekwini ratepayers’ and residents’ associations in Phoenix to discuss the latest developments around the municipal tariffs and service delivery on Friday.
Sisilana said that the associations represented areas such as Chatsworth, Clare Estate, Queensburgh, Reservoir Hills, Phoenix and Verulam.
“The overarching message was that eThekwini belongs to all those who reside in it, and that we need to make it work for all of us.
“We know that some of the issues won’t be fixed overnight. The time to forge partnerships is now to resolve the challenges facing our residents.
“Among the issues raised by the residents are ageing infrastructure, refuse collection, and water and electricity outages.
“The municipality has set up teams of plumbers to fix water leaks and sewer spillages, often caused by the abuse of sewer infrastructure,” Sisilana said.
Nyawose stressed the importance of holding regular community meetings by ward councillors, to listen and respond to the complaints of the community timeously.
Kaunda made a commitment to intervene in service delivery challenges raised by the associations.
The mayor also said at the end of the engagements with ratepayers, that the City will attach service delivery champions to each association who will be intervening on service delivery challenges in various areas.
“This will be supported by the new zonal service delivery model, which entails the clustering of wards and adequate allocation of staff that will fix service delivery complaints promptly.
“The City has also prioritised the budget to purchase jetting machines to address the challenges of sewer spillages. Recently, we have unveiled a new fleet of grass-cutting tractors to clear overgrown verges and to keep our parks clean,” said Kaunda.
Furthermore, Kaunda said the issue of environmental design was critical in fighting crime, and therefore the City must ensure that it keeps all street lights on and make roads traversable in the suburbs, townships and rural communities.
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