Anger over City of eThekwini’s proposed tariff hikes

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the budget had gone through a rigorous process which was balanced and fair. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the budget had gone through a rigorous process which was balanced and fair. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 20, 2024


Durban ratepayers may have to fork out more for municipal services from July after the eThekwini Municipality tabled a draft budget detailing new proposed tariffs on Tuesday.

Ratepayers will have an opportunity to share their views on the draft budget as it will need to go out for public comment before a final version is tabled and approved.

It was presented to members of council during a meeting on Tuesday at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre.

New municipal tariffs come into effect at the start of the new financial year in July.

Opposition parties cried foul over the tariffs and said there was no justification to ask people to pay for services they were not getting.

Ratepayers’ groups expressed the same concerns with one of the organisations equating the new tariffs to being “robbed”.

This comes after a lengthy illegal strike by municipal workers, led by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union, which led to the death of one worker, injuries to others and severe service delivery delays.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the budget had gone through a rigorous process which was balanced and fair.

Tabling the budget valued at R67.3 billion, Kaunda said the 2024/2025 budget comes at a very difficult time as the global economy and the country’s economy were struggling as a result of a slew of challenges.

“The total proposed budget for 2024/2025 is R67.3bn with an operating budget of R59.7bn and a capital budget of R7.6bn. The budget is constrained by a proposed Eskom tariff increase of 12.72% and an uMngeni-uThukela Water board average increase of 9.5%,” he said.

Detailing the tariffs, he said different factors had resulted in a proposed tariff increase of 14% for electricity for residents and businesses.

He said the proposed increase for water was at 14.9% for residents and businesses to ensure stable water supply and water security going forward.

The proposed sanitation tariff increase is 12.9% for residents and businesses.

Waste management interventions result in a refuse tariff increase proposed at 8% for residents, 9% for businesses.

Kaunda said the proposed property rates increase is 7.9%.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said increasing rates and tariffs for services was unjust and heartless. He said residents were not being served.

“If the government (felt any compassion) for ratepayers, they would have kept the tariffs as they were last year.”

DA councillor Andre Beetge said: “The proposed increases of 7.9% for rates, 14.9% for water, 14% for electricity, 12.9% for sanitation and 8% for domestic and 9% for business refuse, is unacceptable and cannot be sustained by the diminishing contributors to this city.

“The proposed budget is only sustainable against a collections rate of 93%, yet losing track of the fact that the current debtors are above R28bn, with a large percentage being irrecoverable,” he said.

Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC) leader Patrick Pillay said that the DLC does not support water tariff increases that will create a bigger hole in the pockets of pensioners and vulnerable communities.

“Currently, many suburbs such as Verulam, Tongaat, Phoenix and Ntuzuma have been without water for many days and some for many weeks. It is unacceptable for the City to burden ratepayers further with water tariff increases when the City cannot provide the basic human right of access to water to its citizens,” said Pillay.

Ratepayer groups were equally outraged at the proposed increases.

Ish Prahladh, of the eThekwini Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said there was going to be an uproar with the residents throughout eThekwini.

“We cannot accept any proposal for increases until service delivery has been restored (in reference to the municipal strike). The residents cannot get ripped off. What is the justification for such a hike when there are failures upon failures?” he said.

Janus Horn, from the Manor Gardens Ratepayers’ Association, said residents cannot afford the increases.

“We have had most of the street lights not working for years. Verges are unkempt. Parks are overgrown. There are potholes in roads, and numerous electricity outages after load shedding due to illegal connections causing an overload.

Water faults take days to repair. This is what happens on a daily basis and they call this service delivery?”

Westville Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Asad Gaffar, said: “The executive of eThekwini has failed the residents of this city, that’s the bottom line. They mustn’t come and blame the ANC or anyone, they have a voice as the executive and opposition parties have failed the residents,” he said.

The Mercury