The Executive Committee (EXCO) has commended community members for their participation in budget hearings that took place in different Zones over the past weekend. EXCO met at the City Hall on Tuesday, 23/04/13.
The Municipality is presently holding a public consultation process on the Draft 2013/2014 Budget and the budget public hearings were clustered into 17 Zones which are made up of several wards. Of these only three were postponed due to logistical challenges and these have been rescheduled for the coming weekend.
Mayor James Nxumalo said: “Most of the meetings were very successful both in terms of attendance and input from communities. It is very important for us to consult with communities on this budget because we value their input.
“The City Manager and his management team will be consolidating the reports from each public hearing so that we can understand what issues will be requiring intervention and inclusion into this budget.”
Mayor Nxumalo also extended an invitation to the Municipality’s stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and civic groups, to a multi-stakeholder budget and IDP workshop (known as the “Big Mama”) which will take place on the 4th of May.
Study Tour to Gauteng Metros
EXCO was also given a report on the recent study tour undertaken by EXCO members and senior management to the City of Johannesburg and the City of Tswane to share ideas with their counterparts.
“Overall it was a very successful visit to these Municipalities and we actually learnt a lot from them.
Comparatively speaking we are on the right track in terms of our approach to service delivery and governance, although they operate a different system from ours. We use the Executive Committee system while they utilise the Executive Mayoral system,” said Mayor Nxumalo.
City Manager Sibusiso Sithole said the visit focused on areas such as governance, oversight structures, long term planning, urban renewal, human settlements and the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN). “We have a lot to gain from these relations with other Metros, especially with regard to the implementation of the integrated public transport system because they have the benefit of experience. We know that Johannesburg is far advanced in terms of their implementation of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system.”
Sithole said they also noted that eThekwini did not have a Civic Centre precinct where all Municipal departments could be situated, as is the case with most Metros. “At the moment we have Municipal departments scattered all over the City. The City should look into investing in a civic centre where we can consolidate Municipal functions. There are existing plans that we need to look at, including the funding model so that we do not have to utilise Council funds. In doing that we should reinforce our urban renewal efforts.”
Audit Report
The Municipality’s Audit and Risk Committee tabled its internal audit report for the quarter ending on 30 September 2012. EXCO noted that the tabling of the report was late as it did not reflect the improvements that had been made in addressing areas of concern raised by the Audit Committee.
Some of the issues raised by the Committee included the implementation of the Revenue Management System, housing debtors, concern over the financial sustainability of the provision of post retirement medical benefits, as well as weaknesses in internal controls in the Metro Police Unit.
In response to the above, the City Manager said a lot of progress had been made in addressing some of these concerns, including the tightening of controls at Metro Police. He said the issue of the post retirement medical benefits was a Bargaining Council matter which was out of the City’s control and affected all municipalities.
EXCO urged the Committee to expedite the report for the quarter ending December 2012 so that progress in addressing some of these concerns could be noted.
Temporary Fire Station – Umkhomazi
EXCO mandated the Head of Real Estate Unit to negotiate market related rental and favourable lease conditions for a portion of the Ultra City (N2 South Coast) garage for the provision of a temporary fire station to service the Umkomazi region. City Manager Sithole said the Umkhomazi area was currently underserviced and there was a serious risk factor in the area. A multi year budget allocation has been approved for the development of a fire station in the area, initially on a temporary basis with R1-million being set aside for this purpose. Amounts of R10-million and R12-million have been allocated for the provision of a permanent facility in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years respectively.
Mayor Nxumalo said the provision of such services was welcome and such should be extended to all areas that were underserviced. This should also include other services like policing.
Hosting of Manchester City for Mandela Birthday
EXCO also welcomed the request for the City to fund the hosting of 2011/2012 English Premier League (EPL) Champions Manchester City for a pre-season tour as part of the Nelson Mandela 95th Birthday Celebrations on 18 July. The visit follows last year’s successful tour by rivals and current EPL Champs Manchester United who played against AmaZulu FC. Benefits to eThekwini included a R228-million direct impact into Durban tourism sector and international exposure with a broadcast audience reach of over 1,37 billion in 156 countries.
The total cost of hosting the event is R5-million, however the City Manager was mandated to negotiate with the Provincial Government to share the costs, as happened in the previous year.
Cornubia: Blackburn Link road
EXCO approved the 50/50 sharing of costs between eThekwini Municipality and Tongaat Hullet Development for the construction of Phase 1 of the Cornubia Blackburn Link Road, which is expected to unlock investments into the Cornubia Integrated Human Settlements, including the Industrial and Business Estate. Council has already approved the funding of R35-million for the construction of the road and associated infrastructure.
Phase 2 of the project will be implemented in 2013/14 financial year with funding from the National Government’s Jobs Fund Grant, which is expected to be approved in July 2013.
Afrox is one of the major investors that have already bought land in the Estate and committed to invest on a R500-million facility, with a condition of sale being access to the site via the Blackburn Link Road.
Staff Bicycle Project
EXCO noted the implementation of the Staff Bicycle Project, which will focus mainly on encouraging Municipal staff to utilise bicycles when commuting between different buildings in the City. This is part of the City’s climate change mitigation strategy which encourages the use of non-motorised transportation. Central to the project is the 294 bicycles that were donated by the United Nations to the Municipality for the COP 17 conference which are to be deployed for use by staff.
EXCO welcomed the initiative and urged that this be extended to Councillors, initially to those in the Executive Committee.
“This initiative is also a better way of encouraging a healthy lifestyle. As Councillors we must take the lead by making time to cycle as often as possible,” said Mayor Nxumalo.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Communications Unit. For more information contact Municipal Spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng on 031 311 4820 or 0827317456 or e-mail Thabo.Mofokeng@durban.gov.za
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