ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
22 August 2017
 
Executive Committee Decisions
 
Independent Body To Investigate the City’s Revenue Management System
 
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede has tasked City Manager Sipho Nzuza to appoint an independent person or body to look at the City’s Revenue Management System (RMS) which was recently implemented. She was speaking at an Executive Committee meeting held today, 22 August.
 
Mayor Gumede said this comes as she has personally received a number of calls from concerned residents about their bills.
 
She said this appointment must be done while the central complaints hotline is being finalised.
 
“These complaints and concerns need to be processed professionally. Residents are concerned and are bringing these concerns to me as the Mayor. I cannot deal with individual queries. By appointing an independent person or body to look at the RMS we can deal with this properly,” Mayor Gumede said.
 
She said this appointment would allow the Executive Committee to ensure proper checks and balances.
 
“I will be comfortable that all is well once this is done. I want it to be noted that I do trust the officials responsible for RMS but I am saying let us check our systems to see that everything is going well and if we are going wrong somewhere let us rectify that and move forward.”
 
This intervention is not an indication that the RMS system has problems, but it is aimed at addressing individual complaints from residents based on its merit.
 
Residents will be updated on the progress of the intervention team, but to ensure the integrity of the process, each case will be assesses on its merit and not through the media.
 
ETHEKWINI TO HOST ESSENCE FESTIVAL 2017
 
A report on the 2017 Essence Festival Durban was tabled at an Executive Committee meeting held today, 22 August.
 
The report provided an update on progress on the 2017 Essence Festival Durban as well as budget approval to host the event.
 
The report stated that this year’s programme started with the City participating in the New Orleans Festival in July 2017 as a result of the partnership of Essence. And as part of exporting culture and showcasing Durban, 26 Durban artists (4 groups) performed at the Festival and other side events.
 
This year’s Festival will be held from 26 September to 1 October at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre and the Durban Exhibition Centre. It will combine existing Council programmes such as the 19 year-old Durban Business Fair, Women Empowerment, the Gospel ID, the Articulate Africa Book and Art Fair and Health, Fitness and Lifestyle.
 
Regarding the financial implications, the report states that there is a shortfall of R12.8 million. R2.8 million cash sponsorship has been received.
The report states that building on last year’s successes, this year’s edition of the Festival aims to continue creating a conducive environment for local business and communities to connect, be inspired and empowered and access global markets.
 
Speaking on the report, Acting Deputy City Manager of Economic Development and Planning Phillip Sithole said a number of events taking place during the Essence Festival had already been budgeted for as they were annual programmes.
 
He said his department did a study on events being hosted in cities and found that a number of South African cities supported national and international events. He said it was not uncommon for a City to support an event such as the Essence Festival.
 
“It won’t take one meeting or even a month or year to explain Essence. It can only be explained through experience, when people are a part of it,” he said.
 
Essence Festival Durban was approved by Council in 2015 to build the Durban brand equity, promote diverse culture and stimulate local economic participation while transferring skills according to the tabled report.
 
It added that the initiative, to host the Festival over three years, was in line with the City’s tourism visitor strategy of ‘taking Durban to the world’.
 
The report before the Executive Committee stated that in 2016 the Essence Festival Durban was integrated with the Municipality’s existing programmes such as the Durban Business Fair, Book and Art Fair, Gospel ID and Health and Fitness.
 
The Festival saw the addition of the Empowerment Stage (seminars), Beauty and Style, Essence Eats and music and concerts and was held from November 8 to 13 with an attendance of over 61 000 people. The Festival contributed R215 million to the City’s GDP with 1 200 employment opportunities created.
 
Sithole said similar to the Essence Festival held last year, the event this year will comprise of a number of categories.
 
“The Festival has been reduced to concerts when it is more than that. It is about women empowerment and sessions were held last year about this. It also focuses on talent development. Last year Steve Harvey from the United States was part of this. A business conference was also held over two days. The business conference this year will focus on radical economic empowerment focusing on what the City is practically doing about this.”
 
Sithole said there are speakers lined up from the United States as well as a caucus of the US Chamber of Commerce who would be attending the Festival.
 
“As a City we have never hosted 30 top business from America before. And they are coming to the City because of Essence. Businesses from the state of California have also confirmed their attendance,” he added.
 
Speaking on the budget for Essence he said a number of events had been budgeted for by departments and were approved by Council as they were annual events.
 
“We have a shortage of a certain amount to host the Festival this year of R12.8 million. We are trying to retain sponsors from last year. One has already pulled out because of the negative media reports about Essence,” he added.
 
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said the issue of officials leaking reports had to be dealt with. She was speaking on a leaked report internal audit report on the 2016 Essence Festival which was subsequently withdrawn.
 
“People have perceptions of the City as a result of this. New Orleans is the sister City of eThekwini. Essence Festival is a brand and when we host the Festival here we are paying for that brand. Some of the programmes being held for the Essence Festival are held every year. Also this Festival is about women empowerment,” Mayor Gumede said.
 
Sipho Kaunda, chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning Committee condemned the negative media reports which quoted the incorrect figures around the Essence Festival.
 
“The amount requested in this report is less than what was budgeted for originally. We cannot argue about a leaked report and what appeared in the report was incorrect. We can only discuss a credible report,” he said.
 
MAYOR CONDEMNS LAND INVASION TAKING PLACE IN THE CITY
 
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede condemned the land invasions taking place in the City. Speaking at an Executive Committee meeting today, 22 August she said the City is facing a serious challenge of land invasion which she feels is politically driven.
 
She said there are opportunists taking advantage of a court interdict preventing the City from demolishing structure of 241 verified respondents.
“We need to find solutions to deal with this matter to ensure it does not stop development in the City. We urge communities to desist from land invasions as this undermines our plans for development. We will continue to look for solutions in dealing with this matter,” she said.
 
Mayor Gumede said the issue will be championed by Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer through the Security and Emergency Services Committee which she chairs.
 
“We need a report on land invasions so we can deal with this matter decisively. This may include strengthening the Security Management Unit who may need more staff. I trust that our officials will assist and that the Deputy Mayor will overcome this issue that we are faced with.”
 
Mayor Gumede added that some land in eThekwini belonged to the province and that the City was entitled to enforce and ensure that the land is safeguarded. She said if any official was implicated in the land invasion issue, they would also be held accountable.
 
ENDS
 
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications Tozi Mthethwa.
 
Please read this confidentiality disclaimer:  http://www.durban.gov.za/Pages/edisclaimer.aspx