DA slams mayor’s millions

eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has come under fire over her almost R100-million programme for mayoral events.

The Democratic Alliance believes that the programme is aimed at creating “easy tenders for pals” to boost Gumede’s support in the ANC in the city.

They are also concerned that the bulk of the three-year budget has been allocated for 2018-2019, suggesting it may be also diverted to fund Gumede’s campaign to be re-elected as chairperson of the ANC’s eThekwini region at its conference, which will be held after the 2019 national and provincial elections.

The programme and adjustments to the budget came before the eThekwini council last week and were approved. Opposition parties voted against it.

The 29 listed items include R8 003 215 for “civic functions”, R5 450 000 for a “mayoral imbizo” and R1 556 000 for a “mayoral lekgotla” in the 2018-2019 financial year, with lesser amounts budgeted for each in the next two years.

Others are R1 500 000 a year for a “we are responsible young people campaign”, and R300 000 a year for “visit to woman [sic] in prison”. A “mayoral cup” will cost ratepayers R2.4-million over three years and three “youth imbizos” will require a total of R3.5-million.

These amounts total R97 777 864, an amount described by DA eThekwini caucus chairperson Nicole Graham as “ridiculous”. She said they had queried the events and amounts at executive committee level but had not received answers.

Graham said the DA had voted against the programme because “the events are arbitrarily named and do not include cost breakdowns, smacking of easy tenders for pals”.

“While ordinary residents suffer from increasingly high costs of living and poor service delivery, their mayor is intent on spending tens of millions to boost her personal profile,” Graham said.

She said many of the events targeted the youth or military veterans and were a last-ditch attempt by Gumede to revive her support from the ANC Youth League and the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association, neither of which were backing her plans for a second term as eThekwini ANC chairperson and mayor.

Graham also questioned the spending of an unbudgeted R14-million by the mayor’s office for budget hearings and the moving of R92-million into the mayor’s parlour for expanded public works project programmes in the adjustment budget that was presented to council last week.

“She has moved all of this to the mayor’s parlour where she has direct control over it. This is a blatant attempt to control resources she can use for patronage to extend to her allies,” Graham said.

Gumede’s former ally and current eThekwini ANC secretary, Bheki Ntuli, is challenging Gumede for the position of ANC chairperson.

The mayor has also fallen out with the Delangokubona SA Business Forum, which backed her bid for the position.

And she faces a backlash for backing the unsuccessful “status quo” slate at the recent ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference, which has affected her relationship with the youth league and the military veterans.

Gumede’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, said there was nothing sinister or controversial about the programme.

“These are annual office programmes that are done by the office of the mayor, which are targeting youth, women, vulnerable members of the community, military veterans and people with disabilities,” he said.

“The allegations by the opposition are baseless. They want to keep the municipal leadership aloof and away from the people.”

He defended the spending on the public works programme, saying it was aimed at providing jobs and income to poor households.

“Anyone who opposes such a programme is against progress and employment of people. The mayor is committed to employment of our people,” he said.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.
Advertising

READ IT IN FULL: Ramaphosa’s address on the extension of...

This is the full address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa on April 9

Meet the doctor leading Africa’s fight to contain the coronavirus...

Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s father helped to eliminate smallpox. Now she’s leading Africa’s efforts against the coronavirus

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world