28 MAY 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

City Adopts Budget Aimed At Radical Economic Transformation

EThekwini Municipality’s R39.1 billion pro-poor budget for the 2015/16 financial year tabled by Mayor James Nxumalo was approved by majority vote during a Special Sitting at Full Council at City Hall yesterday, 27 May 2015.

Addressing members of the media today during a presentation of the key budget highlights, Nxumalo said the Municipality’s budget has been developed in line with the City’s overall planning framework in mind and includes programmes as well as projects to achieve eThekwini’s strategic objectives.

The lion’s share of the Municipality’s R6.1 billion capital budget will be pumped into low-cost housing and infrastructure development throughout the City.

The Municipality’s major Capital Programmes for the next three financial years include:

• Low cost housing and infrastructure to the tune of R 3, 21 billion;

• EThekwini Transport Authority road upgrade amounting to R3, 2 billion;

• An amount of R 874,9 million to address community service backlogs; 

• An amount of R 1, 67 billion for electricity infrastructure;

• Our roads rehabilitation and reconstruction programme, together with new access roads to the tune of R 1, 65 billion.

• An amount of R1.155 billion for the Western and Northern Aqueduct.

Nxumalo said this is a balanced budget which is aimed at changing people’s lives through radical economic transformation and accelerated service delivery.

“We are now in our third decade of freedom but our economy remains untransformed with many of our people dependent on the state for grants. Through radical economic transformation we hope to build a society where citizens are not perpetually dependent on the state but are economically independent,” said Nxumalo.

Nxumalo said the key strategic focus for the Municipality is to ensure that the City becomes financially resilient in an environment characterised by huge demands on the budget. These demands include addressing issues related to the aging infrastructure, developing new infrastructure and closing the social gap. 

“This budget contains priority issues of concern to the people of eThekwini. The constant power outages have been identified by the Municipality as a risk. A multilateral forum has been set up to come up with strategies to mitigate the impact of load shedding on the City’s operations and the local economy,” said Nxumalo.

Nxumalo said that in drafting the tariff increases, the City took cognisance of economic conditions, input costs and the affordability of services to ensure the financial sustainability of the city. 

He said revenue generated from rates and service charges accounts for 67.7 percent of the total revenue. Electricity charges account for 35.6 percent equivalent to R 11.8 billion and is projected to increase to R 14.7 billion by 2017/18. 

The main tariff increases for the 2015/16 financial year are:

• 6.9 % for assessment rates

• 9.5 % for residential water 

• 12.9 % for business water

• 12.2 % for electricity charges

• 7.9 % for sanitation 

• 7.9 % for refuse removal

The significant contributory factor for the increase in levels of rates and service charges must be viewed in the context of the percentage increases of bulk purchases of both Eskom at 14.24 percent and Umgeni Water at 7.7 percent. 

The Municipality is opposed to Eskom’s proposal to implement further electricity increases and has called on National Treasury to intervene. 

City Manager Sibusiso Sithole said the Municipality has reported the highest number of work opportunities totalling 134 883. 

“Another shining example is the Zibambele Poverty Alleviation programme which has created about 6000 jobs. We have placed emphasis on youth and skills development and have budgeted R65.8million for youth development initiatives with 2367 learners benefitting,” said Sithole.

Sithole said one of the Municipality’s long-term development goals is to build a safer city. 

He said last year, the Municipality committed to confront the increasing challenge of drug addiction which gives rise to various social ills. 

“Working together with different stakeholders such as Non-Government Organisations, Metro Police, South African Police Services, Department of Health, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Social Development and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and we succeeded in cleaning up area adjacent to the Berea Station and Albert Park. While our main focus is on law enforcement, we realise that the bigger issues of rehabilitation of young addicts and finding a home for all affected people, must be prioritised,” said Sithole. 

During the budget presentation, Nxumalo also highlighted the following: 

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION 

The City Planning Commission has been established to align the long-term City Growth and Development Strategy with National and Provincial Government. EThekwini is the first city to set up its own commission after National and Provincial Commissions were established.

The City Planning Commission is chaired by Professor Ivan Turok and comprises of experts from across various fields.

MILITARY VETERANS POLICY

In line with the National Military Veteran’s Act of 2011 government is committed to recognising and honouring all veterans across various backgrounds for their sacrifices by ensuring the smooth transition from active military service to civilian life as well as improving the quality of life of Military Veterans and their dependents. 

Nxumalo said the Municipality was doing its own verification process to establish the number of military veterans who are residing in eThekwini. A policy will be submitted to Council for adoption. 

VIRGINIA AIRPORT

Recently Council took a decision to redevelop the Virginia Airport site. Soon public notices will be placed about how the city will engage with the unsolicited bid for a mixed-use development. In pursuit of this development compliance with supply chain framework will be followed. We also expect the city to conclude lease agreements with operators which will not impede the development in future. The city is working with the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal, Airports Company of South Africa, Dube TradePort and other stakeholders to unlock this investment and to secure the alternative site. This development will also be integrated to proposed development at the Beachwood Country Club.

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

The youth will live the legacy we leave hence this is an integral part of the Mayoral Programme with the appointment of the Youth Manager as of 1 May 2015 signalling the establishment of the Youth Development Office. Activities for youth month will include the launch of the Mayoral Cup, which aims to encourage positive lifestyle through sports and culture. It will involve youth from all wards in eThekwini. 

In June 2015, the Municipality will launch the Mayoral Student Financial Relief Fund which will offer bursaries to learners who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure access to education. 

The Municipality recognises the need to fully capacitate this office so that it can focus on streamlining all youth related programmes such as formalising structures that will ensure effective engagement with young people. This year we will also be celebrating youth month with a focus on youth development and entrepreneurship.

ENDS

Issued by eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Head, Tozi Mthethwa.

For more information contact Gugu Mbonambi on 0313114855 or email:gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za or Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za​