ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9 February 2016

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DECISIONS

City to Investigate Alternatives to Recycling of Graves

EThekwini Municipality will be writing to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities for an extension regarding the decision to immediately cease reusing graves while alternate options are explored.

EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and other City officials appeared before the Commission last week after concerns were raised about the City’s policy of reusing graves and they highlighted some of the challenges facing the City. This includes the severe shortage of grave sites. Currently 48 cemeteries were closed with only 17 cemeteries open. They are expected to be full in two years’ time.

Providing the Executive Committee with an update following his appearance before the Commission last week, Nxumalo said while the Commission was concerned about the reusing of graves by different families, the process could not be phased out overnight.

“We will write a letter to the Commission asking them to give us time to deal with the matter. The change cannot happen overnight, it’s a process that has to be phased out while we explore other options. This letter will be part of the opportunity the Commission has given us as the City to respond,” he said.

During the reusing of the grave, the remains were buried deeper and covered in soil, with another body put on top. Families opposed to this have an option to pay a lease fee every 10 years. 

Nxumalo said the Commission was concerned about the reusing of graves by different families.

“They indicated that they don’t have a problem where someone from the same family reuses graves. We need to go back and review our policy and how we can mitigate these processes. We have to look into this issue to ensure we don’t find ourselves in a difficult position,” he said.

Deputy City Manager Musa Gumede said Municipal councillors were looking for space for new cemeteries however an extension was needed while the possibilities were discussed. He said public participation was also needed on the issue.

City Manager Sibusiso Sithole said they needed to speak to the Commission about criteria while they explored all options.

He said acquiring space was not easy as it competed with other needs such as housing.

“That the land is suitable for burial also needs to be taken into consideration. The recycling of graves in one family is a short term solution. Long term we need other solutions to meet the City’s needs,” Sithole said.

CITY TO EMPOWER YOUTH WITH SKILLS THROUGH ARTISAN PROGRAMME

Unemployment and the lack of skills go hand in hand. To address the scourge of unemployment, particularly among the youth, eThekwini Municipality plans to run an Artisans Development Project to tackle this issue.

The project was approved by the Executive Committee today, 9 February 2016.

The programme will train artisans over a period of three years. The training budget will be identified from the savings on the maintenance budget.

The programme seeks to address the issue of unemployment which is at 50 percent and is set to worsen if the matter is not addressed soon. Youth are also prevented from venturing into entrepreneurship by a lack of opportunities and skills.

The project will target unemployed youth to venture into scarce skills that will see them gain employment. It will also cater for students who want to start their own businesses.

Each youth participant will be part of the Artisans Development Project for 10 months. They will be trained by various institutions and do their experiential learning in the various maintenance programmes of the Municipality. Students will be paid a stipend every month.

Once they have finished their training they will be used as a pool for ongoing maintenance programmes in the City.

There is also a business opportunity for those wanting to register co-operatives that will help the Municipality in doing maintenance work thus improving service delivery.

City Manager Sibusiso Sithole said around 10 000 youth will benefit from the programme over two years. He said details such as recruitment processes, a detailed budget, how the programme will be monitored and its sustainability still needed to be discussed.

Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala welcomed the project saying it was a “very good idea”.

“Skills development is one area to be excited about. However we require a further report back in a month’s time with more details of how the project will be run but we support the proposal. Young people should be equipped with skills and be innovative in finding solutions to the challenges facing our City,” she said.

FURTHER WATER RESTRICTIONS TO BE IMPLEMENTED 

Water restrictions will be imposed in areas supplied by the Umgeni River system as a directive of the South African Department of Water and Sanitation. Details of measures to be taken to mitigate the drought situation were outlined in a report presented to the Executive Committee today, 9 February 2016.

Water restrictions have already been imposed in the northern parts of Durban in areas supplied by Hazelmere Dam. 

However as the drought continues, the levels of other major supply dams in the province have started to drop towards critical levels, the report states. This has prompted the South African Department of Water and Sanitation to impose water restrictions on all areas supplied by the Umgeni River System.

The following restrictions are to be implemented with immediate effect to all areas supplied by the Umgeni River system as well as all of eThekwini metro with the exception of the areas supplied by Hazelmere Dam.

The restrictions are as follows:

• Restrict domestic and industrial use by 15 percent of the annual target draft and;

• Restrict irrigation use by 50 percent of the annual target draft.

Residents are urged to reduce water consumption in line with the above percentages. 

Further action to be taken includes increasing the awareness campaigns to promote water saving initiatives, the intensification on the repairs of leaks, water losses and monitoring the use of water by car washes, and fines imposed on those who violate the restrictions. Any consumer found not to be complying with the water restrictions, following a written warning, be issued a fine in accordance with Clause II (1)(b) of the eThekwini Water Bylaws which is R500 for domestic consumers and R10 000 for large businesses, 

The Municipality will also continue to support the existing drought initiatives.

EThekwini Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said education was key to saving water. She said the war on water leaks programme initiated by the City had to be intensified to save water.

PRESENTATION BY NATIONAL TREASURY TO CITY LEADERSHIP

A delegation from National Treasury presented a report to the Executive Committee today, 9 February 2016 on the Economic and Fiscal Challenges and the role Metros such as eThekwini Municipality could play.

Una Rautenbach, director of local government budgets in National Treasury said during the presentation that South Africa’s economy is underperforming and needed successful metros and secondary cities.

“By far the largest fraction of South Africa’s economic growth in future decades will take place in these Municipalities. Metros have been growing faster than the national economy. Metros are the engines of the SA economy,” she said.

Rautenbach said good management of municipal financial resources and supporting inclusive economic development is even more important now than ever. 

Since municipalities will have to use their own resources much more effectively, financial management indicators become even more important, she said. This includes looking at collection rate, cash, debt (total borrowings), irregular and wasteful expenditure.

She said eThekwini’s debt collection rate has always been good and has steadily increased over the years. Irregular expenditure has also been reduced which was positive.

As of June 2015, eThekwini had spent 98 percent of its operational budget and 92 percent of its capital budget which was very good, Rautenbach added.

However, the City’s water distribution losses were high and had to come down.

Concluding the presentation, she said Municipalities have important levers to support faster and more inclusive economic growth. This included well-located and effective economic infrastructure services, effective economic service delivery (quick electricity and water connections, etc.), effective economic administration (planning and construction approvals, etc.) and sustainable transport and housing delivery, to promote mobility and inclusion.

Rautenbach said it was important for all Municipalities to develop credible investment programmes that can support growth, based on solid creditworthiness parameters.

ENDS 

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

For more information members of the media can contact Gugu Sisilana on 031 311 4855 or email: gugu.mbonambi@durban.gov.za​ or Princess Nkabane on 031 311 4818 or princess.nkabane@durban.gov.za 

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