Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille Picture: Brenton Geach

Cape Town - Ratepayers will be footing the bill of R414 627 for a two-day “breakaway session” for the city’s 154 DA councillors next month, sparking outrage from the ACDP.

Mayor Patricia de Lille approved the spending as part of her executive powers last month, for the overnight stay at the 4-star Krystal Beach Hotel in Gordon’s Bay from November 17 to 18.

Just under two years ago, ratepayers paid for another DA caucus breakaway at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, at a cost of R327 000.

But the council will also be paying for a breakaway for the ANC next month.

The ANC’s caucus leader Xolani Sotashe said their “breakaway” would be held from November 18-20, at a city venue still to be confirmed.

In a report to the council on Wednesday, no details were provided with regard to the purpose of the DA’s “breakaway”.

Further raising the hackles of the ACDP was the report containing approvals for international and local travel by councillors and officials, which was tabled as not open to debate.

Upon inquiry from the Cape Argus, De Lille’s spokeswoman, Zara Nicholson, said the purpose of the DA’s breakaway was to determine how councillors could ensure optimal service delivery and a productive and efficient administration.

“It is typical at the beginning of any administration to hold these sessions. Not only are there more DA councillors than ever before, but the session is only taking place now because of the delay in holding local government elections. So we are now in the peak (holiday) season, which is why the cost is more,” said Nicholson.

In a statement, Grant Haskin, the ACDP’s caucus leader, said the expenditure was a “massive abuse” of ratepayers” money to benefit a political party. The DA should have considered using a council venue instead and the expenditure could not bejustified.

Haskin said an overnight stay at R2 500 per person was unnecessary as most councillors lived within driving distance of the venue. “What kind of message does this send to ratepayers who are funding this party political extravagance?

“The city’s council chamber accommodates over 250 people and it was purpose built for councillors work, costing R20 million at the time. The city hall is another suitably located, city-owned conference venue that would only cost the nominal daily hire fee.”

Sotashe said the ANC’s breakaway will be used to assess progress, set objectives and determine the party’s direction regarding performance goals. The council spent around R250 000 on the ANC’s event last year. He said the costs were expected to be much less this year due to fewer councillors.

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Cape Argus