The eThekwini Municipality which is battling crumbling infrastructure, a backlog in housing for the poor and massive service delivery issues which have forced some communities to withhold paying rates, has been given the nod to spend R1.7m on an awards evening to thank city officials for their “hard work”.
A proposal by the Governance and International Relations Committee of the City, led by ANC Councillor Nkosenhle Madlala, to spend R1 740 000 of ratepayer money to host the “eThekwini Municipality City Stars Awards” came up for debate at a council meeting on Tuesday.
Despite objections from opposition parties, the item was approved by the ANC-EFF bloc which saw it being approved.
Outrage followed the decision with the DA’s Sakhile Mngadi asking, “With everything that is going wrong in the city, what exactly are they celebrating?”
Visvin Reddy the leader of the African Democratic Change ADeC and a councillor in the eThekwini Municipality also did not support the item.
In opposing it, he said: “While we appreciate the need to boost staff morale, we believe that there are other, more cost-effective ways to achieve this goal. At a time when we need to be more frugal with our spending, it is a gross mismanagement of ratepayer funds to waste money on fancy occasions for invited guests who eat and dance at ratepayers expense. ADeC cannot support this recommendation, and we urge all political parties who claim to support ratepayers to reject this proposal. It is clear that this event has been held for years, yet service delivery has deteriorated. This party, at ratepayers' expense, does not contribute to improved service delivery”.
According to Mngadi, over the last two years, the DA in eThekwini has highlighted how the ANC has blown R106 000 000 on 36 parties of similar nature.
“When the municipality is collapsing before our very eyes, we should not have to ‘thank’ people for doing their job (which is questionable), especially very well-paid civil servants,” Mngadi said.
According to the proposal on the agenda, the beneficiaries of the awards bash will receive certificates and photos to a total value of R150 000.
The bulk of the money, however, will be spent on food and drinks where caterers are expected to score big.
A total of R1.55 million will go to service providers to host the event.
R900 000 has been earmarked for “venue hire and catering” for the 200 guests that will be invited, totalling R4 500 a head for the bash
“This is more than dinner at the most expensive 5-star hotel in Durban,” Mngadi lamented.
“It is evident that this event is nothing other than a rent-seeking scheme by the ANC and EFF to channel funds to the politically connected. While residents of eThekwini have sewage flowing through their streets, go days without electricity and water, and with crime out of control, city officials will be partying it up at their expense. The Doomsday Coalition between the ANC and EFF, as predicted by the DA in April of this year, is proving to be entirely true”.
Mngadi said the DA will be approaching the Public Protector and Auditor General to sanction this crass and grotesque waste of money.