The beleaguered Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) Local Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands has come under fire for approving a three-year R27 million sponsorship for a team largely based in Durban.
The municipality has been under administration for the past five years amid allegations of financial mismanagement.
While under administration, the city has failed to provide basic services like waste collection, fixing street lights and potholes.
NEWS: ActionSA in KZN has become the latest political party to slam the ANC-led Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) local municipality for the R27 million sponsorship advanced to Royal AM which is owned by businesswoman Shauwn Mkhize and her son Andile Mpisane.— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) July 24, 2023
Last week, it met virtually and resolved to sponsor the Royal AM football club with millions so that it could play its games at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
The roping in of the Durban team follows Maritzburg United's relegation from the DSTV Premiership, which the city had previously sponsored. This left the stadium, refurbished for the 2010 World Cup, with no anchor tenant.
Royal AM, which plays in the DSTV Premiership, is owned by Shauwn Mkhize. She is the daughter of Florence Mkhize, who hailed from Umbumbulu in the south of Durban.
Florence Mkhize is a former ANC activist in the Durban area, and before her death, she served as a senior councillor in the eThekwini municipality.
In her honour, the ANC rammed through a decision to rename the former Martin West Building, the main revenue collection centre for the municipality, after her – it is now called the Florence Mkhize Building.
ActionSA in KwaZulu-Natal has raised alarm regarding the Msunduzi sponsorship, saying the municipality struggles to pay Eskom.
The chairperson of ActionSA in the province, Zwakele Mncwango said the municipality wants to apply for debt relief to pay Eskom, yet it is splashing money on a soccer team.
“To add insult to injury, it disclosed that the Municipality would apply for debt relief in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) circular no.124, to pay off its R400 million Eskom debt.
“One has to recall that Msunduzi Municipality has been under administration for the past five years, which was extended by Cogta in May of this year due to a host of issues, including irregular expenditure and maladministration,” Mcwango said.
Furthermore, he said Msunduzi has a staff capacity of less than 50%.
“In true fashion of ANC-led municipalities, residents of Msunduzi are subjected to poor service delivery, lack of effective waste management, high crime rates and ageing infrastructure due to poor maintenance, age and vandalism,” Mcwango added.
City manager Lulamile Mapholoba said that they are not the only municipality owing Eskom, and they are working on servicing their debt.
"The issue of Eskom accounts is affecting quite a number of municipalities in South Africa, and Msunduzi Municipality is no exception. We have entered into a payment arrangement to service that account and bring (it) to the current account,” Mapholoba said.
Justifying the R27 million sponsorship, Mapholoba said they have been giving out sponsorships and there are benefits.
“Having a PSL team brings a lot of social-economic spin-offs for the city in terms of the hospitality industry, garages, tourism, youth development, sport development, promotion of women's sport, keeping our airport very busy as most teams land at that airport, and some spectators,” he said.
Mapholoba said it was critical that the stadium be used, otherwise it would become another 2010 World Cup white elephant.
“It must also be remembered that soccer is a highly supported sport in our black communities across age groups. Fridays have never been the same since we had a PSL team in our municipality. Having a PSL team services the whole of the district of uMgungundlovu and neighbouring ones,” Mapholoba added.