The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) 59 Councillors in the eThekwini Council will not support the 2020/ 2021 Municipal Budget unless substantial changes are made to the final version.
The final version is not yet available but the draft budget contained high tariff increases, a 9.5% total staff cost increase and plenty of unnecessary expenditure. It is due to be tabled during an online meeting of the Council on Friday, 29 May.
At the start of the lockdown, the DA submitted detailed proposals as to how the municipal budget could and should be re-worked to focus on what we believe is the city’s key priorities in a time of crisis: delivering quality, affordable basic services; maintaining and developing infrastructure; supporting the local economy and saving jobs; and protecting vulnerable people.
Whilst we have agreed with some reasonable steps that the municipality has taken, the overall response in eThekwini has been poor and the city is quickly running out of money as the local economy falters.
Against this backdrop, it is immoral to support high tariff increases and perks for staff. The municipality’s inability to explain clearly what steps they have taken to mitigate staff costs- failing to explain if they ever approached the unions or bargaining council- only raises more concern.
The DA has launched a website, https://www.durbansaysno.co.za/, which residents can use to find their Councillor, see which Councillors are committing to voting against these increases and make their voices heard.
We have also engaged all opposition parties in the Council and had constructive conversations with them about our various responses. The DLC, MOSA, Al-Jamah, and the MF sadly chose not to participate.
The law also dictates that Council Meetings must be open to the public when a budget is tabled. To this end, we have approached the Speaker, Councillor Weziwe Thusi, to ask what will be done to ensure that members of the public can watch the proceedings of Council and see whether or not their representatives are doing their jobs.
The DA urges all eThekwini residents to stay informed, to make their voices heard and to fight back against uncaring and irresponsible municipal management. Councillors and municipal staff work for the residents of eThekwini, not the other way round.