Durban - A dinner event to “present” the budget for the eThekwini Municipality’s Human Settlement and Infrastructure Unit at a posh Durban hotel has come under fire from opposition parties in the council.
The Mercury has seen an electronic invite stating that the dinner would be held this evening at a top hotel in Durban.
The invite says: “The chairperson of Human Settlement and Infrastructure, councillor Philani Mavundla, cordially invites you to the 2022-2023 budget presentation Gala dinner for Human Settlement and Infrastructure Clusters.”
Mavundla is the chairperson of the Human Settlement and Infrastructure portfolio committee.
It is understood that the councillors who sit on the committee were sent the invitation.
The invitation has caused outrage among opposition councillors, and left some council officials bewildered. One said they had never heard of a municipal unit holding its budget event at a hotel.
DA councillor Zamani Khuzwayo said those who organised the dinner needed to provide answers to pressing questions including: What is the intention of this event since the budget has been approved already and begins on July 1, 2022? Khuzwayo said he also wanted to know the cost of the dinner event, and who was footing the bill.
He said that if the municipality was paying for it, then it needed to explain the financial considerations made and the reasons for the expenditure.
“We call for the cancellation of this wasteful expenditure event,” said Khuzwayo.
“While we appreciate efforts to engage stakeholders, it is rather concerning that during such a time of great financial constraints, as a committee we have a budget to organise what appears to be an extremely extravagant event.”
Councillor Visvin Reddy of the African Democratic Change (ADeC), said he would not attend the dinner, adding that the invitation came as a surprise to most members of the committee.
“We are not sure who will be footing the bill for this extravagant unveiling of a council committee budget. My own investigation reveals that the municipality is not paying for it.
“A mystery donor is allegedly covering the costs.
“This extravagant event is a slap in the face of eThekwini residents, and ratepayers in particular. Many of our people are still without water, roads are not repaired and promises to provide housing for flood victims have not been fulfilled.
“The deputy mayor is fully aware of the plight of our citizens, and behaves like Marie Antoinette, who told hungry protesters wanting bread, to eat cake. As a member of the HS&I (Human Settlement and Infrastructure) committee, I am not aware of any decision by the committee to support this function.”
IFP councillor Mzwethu Gwala said they had almost no information about the event.
“We still have not received a full explanation about it, or where the budget to host it came from, and we do not understand the agenda behind it,” he said.
The mayor’s office, which claimed to be unaware of the dinner, said it was gathering details on the event.
Mavundla could not be reached at the time of publication.