Gumede's eThekwini budget gets thumbs down from opposition parties
Opposition parties in the eThekwini municipality have slammed the city’s 2019-2020 budget.
Embattled eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede's presented the city’s R50.6bn budget on Wednesday.
She had bad news for eThekwini ratepayers, who will see a 6.7% increase in rates and a 13.07% increase in water tariffs. Pensioners, child-headed households, disability grantees and the medically boarded are exempt from paying rates.
"As the most caring and liveable city, we have tried to cushion our ratepayers and customers because we understand the current state of our economy," said Gumede.
She said the lion's share of the budget, R42.8bn, had been allocated to operational costs such as infrastructure maintenance and repairs.
Her budget presentation got off to a shaky start, with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) calling for a halt to proceedings. The opposition party said Gumede should not be presenting the budget as she is facing fraud-related charges related to a municipal tender. Despite their objections, Gumede continued.
"For the first time, we decided not to support the budget due to the increase in electricity and water [prices]. It is above the inflation rate so ordinary people can't afford it," the IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said after the mayor's address.
"When we approve the budget, there is no implementation on the ground. Once it is passed, people will continue protesting for service delivery," he added.
The DA shared this sentiment, saying they were not impressed by how the budget was allocated and calling for the municipality to account for its actions.
Meanwhile, the EFF said that the city's reputation would still be intact had their vote of no confidence against the mayor been tabled.
"The things we are facing today are a direct result of what we wanted to discuss as a municipality, so we can find a solution. Today the municipality's name is being brought into disrepute," said Tholithemba Mthiyane from the EFF.