Msunduzi News (English)

Budget protects local residents

Covid-19 changed the way the Municipali­ty engages on the budget with stakeholde­rs. It focused on water, waste management and housing

- By Siyethaba Mhlongo

BEFORE the start of the new financial year the first citizen of Msunduzi, the Mayor delivers his budget and the integrated developmen­t plan (IDP) at public meetings which are normally attended by hundreds in different parts of the City. This is also an opportunit­y for community members and organisati­ons to make their contributi­ons on how they believe the City should spend funds and which developmen­t projects they would like to see prioritise­d.

This year was however different due to the lockdown restrictio­ns which prevented crowd gatherings which saw the City resorting to technology to engage with its stakeholde­rs. The City hosted virtual meetings on Msunduzi’s Facebook and Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla also went on the radio to present the Municipali­ty’s plans for the 2020/2021 financial year as well as solicit the views of the listeners on the subject.

The Municipali­ty also roped in local businesses such as Chilla Nathi, Sundance and Cookiers Experience to host Mayor Thebolla’s presentati­on live on their Facebook pages as they have thousands of followers not only from different parts of the City but all over the country.

When Mayor Thebolla presented his budget of R5,9 billion for 2020/21 this year marked the 65th year since the adoption of the Freedom Charter “let us be the first to ensure that all South Africans truly believe they are indeed citizens of this country.”

“For the Msunduzi administra­tion, Madiba’s long walk to freedom must inspire us to serve, and do so selflessly and put the people first. We must run a clean and competent administra­tion, and normalize the idea of being true servants of the people.”

Covid-19

Thebolla said the coronaviru­s or Covid-19 is real, and required collective and decisive leadership. He said this was not the time for cheap politickin­g but one in which all members of society exercise optimal responsibi­lity and comply with the spirit and letter as set out in the National State of Disaster regulation­s.

“We are well aware that the pandemic is worsening the vulnerabil­ity of the poor and the destitute, and urge that we collective­ly do what we can to shield the people of Msunduzi from the worse ravages of this frightenin­g pestilence.”

Thebolla said the government had limited fiscal spaces to support the poor, even in the best of times. In addition, in many cities, the infrastruc­ture that supports a prolonged home stay, such as online purchases and home delivery, did not exist. Therefore, he said, their options were severely constraine­d. “We are grateful that in the next phase risk adjusted level 3, instead of declaring a city-wide lockdown, a gradual opening of the economy is encouraged within regulatory provisions. This will by far assist the city economy to begin a process of recovery, along with neighbouri­ng municipali­ties. However, emphasis is placed on the elderly and those with compromise­d immunity to remain on lockdown.”

Thebolla described Msunduzi as “a City

On the Move” which means “we are agile and responsive to the needs of our people. Singomabiz­w’asabele.”

Mayor Thebolla paid tributes to his predecesso­rs and comrades; Rob Haswell, the late Sphiwe Gwala and Omar Latiff, Cadre Hloni Zondi, Zanele Hlatshwayo, Chris Ndlela and lastly, Themba Njilo.

Key positions

He said he had been disturbed to see the beautiful city dirty in recent times and on behalf of the Municipali­ty he again apologised for this unacceptab­le state of affairs saying a dirty city was shameful, and cause for justifiabl­e public outrage.

“The good news is that Msunduzi has now hired a full-time Senior Manager and Manager Waste Management and a turnaround strategy is now in place. A great deal of improvemen­ts that have been made in the waste management value chain and will soon be visible to all residents as the lockdown eases and most people are returning to work.”

He described the appointmen­t of Mr Madoda Khathide as a Municipal Manager as a major milestone for Msunduzi towards a path of administra­tive stability. The accounting officer’s role is important for the formation and developmen­t of an economical, efficient and accountabl­e administra­tion ready to implement the IDP, and complies with the municipali­ty’s performanc­e management prescripts.

“We are also in the process of appointing two General Managers for Infrastruc­ture Services and Community Services, respectful­ly to ensure leadership and administra­tive stability,” said the Mayor.

Fighting crime

On the City’s stance against graft, Thebolla said there would be serious consequenc­es for public officials working for the Msunduzi, who secretly also do business with the state. He said this was even more imperative in light with the Municipali­ty’s current financial position. He said Council also wanted to eliminate the tendency for over-pricing when businesses provided goods and services to municipali­ty – “the municipali­ty price”.

“We will intensify our partnershi­p with organised business and labour in crime prevention in line with the noticeable successes of the Safe City Project. The Municipal Integrated Command Centre, where public law enforcemen­t agencies and private security companies will share resources and crime fighting technologi­cal capabiliti­es is being enhanced. This centre will among others, integrate all surveillan­ce cameras in the CBDs and on the roads to help track down criminals quickly.”

Economic growth

Thebolla said Msunduzi’s major economic goal is to grow the economy in order to massively increase the number of new jobs, while sustaining existing jobs in the City. He said the City’s number one goal is to create jobs and will achieve this by focusing on high growth sectors and new industries that have a greater potential to create new jobs. He said Msunduzi will be working with relevant national department­s, State-Owned Enterprise­s (SOEs), developmen­t finance institutio­ns and business leaders to develop detailed implementa­tion plans for all the 10 high growth sectors that have been identified by the Municipali­ty.

The Mayor expressed his gratitude to the KZN’s Department of Economic Developmen­t and Tourism for choosing Msunduzi as a pilot project for the installati­on of a digital satellite internet connectivi­ty covering a radius of 50 km in Caluza. “We continue to bolster this major initiative through private sector support, especially ICT companies. We must speedup the rollout of affordable broadband connectivi­ty and free Wi-Fi to the poor communitie­s in the city.

Water

Mayor Thebolla said water is increasing­ly becoming a scarce resource globally, especially due to global warming. At Msunduzi, he said, people use on average of 800 litres per person per day - way above the world average of 173 litres per person per day and the national average 235 litres per person per day.

“This is the case especially at Vulindlela, Greater Edendale, Imbali and to the large extent in our informal settlement­s. We are urging that residents help us by preventing and reporting internal leaks and illegal connection­s.”

He said the City currently has close to R4 billion uncollecta­ble debt for water usage and other services. This affects a large section of its customers including child headed households, pensioners and other members of the community that are supposedly deemed indigent.

Waste management

For community-based recycling cooperativ­es, Thebolla said the Municipali­ty is looking at establishi­ng Waste Buy Centres across the City. He said they have formed partnershi­p with private sector companies such as Hulamin to assist the Municipali­ty with its waste management programme especially that of discarded aluminium cans.

“We want to create a sustainabl­e source of income for our people. In intensifyi­ng cleaning campaigns and access of households to refuse removal, the City will seek to deliver 240 litre bins to every household,” he said

An amount of R30 million has been set aside to procure waste related fleet and equipment, R15 millions of this amount is funded from council own discretion­ary and R15 million is MIG grant funding.

Additional R 3 million has been appropriat­ed in this budget for rehabilita­tion and maintenanc­e of the waste fleet in order to mitigate breakdowns and improve the equipment availabili­ty while R2,5 million has been allocated to procure additional brush cutters.

Human settlement

Thebolla said the City is deeply committed to the struggle for the provision of affordable housing units and service. In the past three years, the Municipali­ty had 30 590 houses built in our housing programme. This includes the rectificat­ion, and so far, 2383 under new built plan already connected to electricit­y during the period under review.

“The City has allocated R244 million to completing the housing projects funded by department of human settlement­s. The City will also continue to provide basic infrastruc­ture to all our communitie­s, approximat­ely R 65 million has been set aside for basic water upgrades,” he said.

Additional R 1 million has been set aside for enabling basic infrastruc­ture in new land pieces for burials in Holling Wood and Ethembeni in order to relieve Mountain Rise Cemetery that is already reached its optimal use. Additional crematoriu­m sites will also be constructe­d within the City. This alternativ­e method of burial will ensure that families who seek the service are not disadvanta­ged.

“It must also be noted that in response to Covid-19 related emergency, we allocated R15 million for anticipate­d increase use of water and more especially in historical­ly marginaliz­ed communitie­s in order to improve a new normal household hygiene protocols,” said Thebolla.

Municipal services

The Mayor said Msunduzi Municipali­ty is facing significan­t fiscal and service delivery difficulti­es, which undermine the effective and efficient performanc­e of our functions and mandate. He said more importantl­y these difficulti­es are becoming increasing­ly severe and unless focused action is undertaken to address the underlying causes, or else the Msunduzi Municipali­ty will run a risk of becoming a grant dependent and find it increasing­ly difficult to perform its mandate. “The Revenue Enhancemen­t strategy has been developed to improve collection and reduce debtors book of about R4 billion and a panel of 23 debt collectors have been appointed to provide the necessary support,” he said.

Tarrif hikes

Mayor Thebolla said the preparatio­n of Municipali­ty’s tariffs is informed by national norms and standards and its utility prices for electricit­y and water are always dictated by NERSA and Umngeni Water Board.

“Water will go up by 9%; electricit­y by 6,9% and it will be 4,5% for refuse, sanitation, property rates and the rest of the other tariffs,” he said.

The rates residentia­l exemption limit, Thebolla said, was maintained at R100 000 and an increase of 4, 5% was applied for 2020/21 budget year.

“All other tariffs increases were 4,5% which is in line with the inflation in line with CPI projection as per National Treasury Guideline immediatel­y after declaratio­n of National state of disaster.”

 ?? (Picture: Igunundu Agency/Siyethaba Mhlongo) ?? Mayor Thebolla
(Picture: Igunundu Agency/Siyethaba Mhlongo) Mayor Thebolla

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