The call made by President Cyril Ramaphosa of “Thuma Mina” together with an emphasis to action local government’s mandate, resonated throughout the final Budget speech 2019/20 delivered by Mayor Zandile Gumede. The City’s R50.6billion consolidated budget was presented at a sitting of full council, on, 29 May 2019 at City Hall.
“A lot has been done and we are proud of the progress we have made. The most important thing is that we are transforming lives and impacting communities. Our democracy is growing.”
Gumede outlined the plans for the City going forward including the catalytic projects that will transform the Durban’s landscape and promote future growth and development.
“The catalytic projects planned for the City will have a huge economic and social impact. This will be measured in terms of the number of jobs created and how it supports mixed-use development by integrating commercial and housing needs, which will generate additional income through rates,” said Mayor Gumede.
The budget is a direct response to the call from communities who participated in the two-month long draft budget consultation process.
“They came out in their numbers during our budget hearings. We must not disappoint them by asking them to contribute and later ignore their requests. Our people are not asking for much, they want simple things like speed humps, fixing of potholes, streetlights, passages and cleaning of their areas.
If we want our people to trust us on bigger things, let us deliver on these small things. We want less workshops and talk shops but actual delivery. We have spoken and strategised for far too long, now it’s time for action. We have a lot of theories and documents on our table, but less action” added Gumede.
The budget speech also highlighted the progress made through the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) framework through execution and monitoring of RET projects.
The Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) programme was another success brought to light that is now integrated in the structure of the organisation, with the approval of the RASET Agribusiness Department organogram.
In terms of the City’s economic development, Gumede outlined the Shape Durban initiative which is the new inclusive economic growth plan that the municipality has developed. It is a five year partnership that aims to build a stronger and more inclusive economy through concrete interventions.
The municipality has also appointed “Team Durban” that will provide strategic foreign direct investment advice and support to the city and act as a sounding board for council leadership and the new Invest Durban Unit on business and investment promotion matters.
Further, the Municipality’s Investment Promotion Strategy and Implementation Plan is an integrated approach that will allow for the majority of our local citizens to access public transport, goods and services in a cost-effective and efficient manner and to also to respond to growing the City’s rates base. This will enable the City to meet the local socio-economic obligations.
In her address Gumede welcomed the announcement made by newly appointed Premier, Sihle Zikalala on the continuation of the provision of houses and ensuring a sustainable livelihood to all.
Over the next few years, the Province has promised to deliver no less than 125 000 units. One of the major focus of the Premier’s administration will be to develop and implement a clear plan to provide houses to all people who reside in transit camps.
BUDGET FOR 2019/20
The budget aims to facilitate and ensure the provision of infrastructure, services and support. The budget is expected to create an enabling environment for all residents to utilise their full potential and access opportunities. “This is action budget, it an implementation season, an age of Thuma Mina! We want action that is our emphasis,” said Gumede.
“The budget supports the City’s commitment to broadening service delivery, attracting investors and expanding investment in infrastructure, within the current constrained economic environment we are currently experiencing.”
The Municipality has identified priority areas to be addressed during the 2019/20 financial year to ensure immediate measures to reignite development and structural reforms over the medium term in line with the strategic vision outlined in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
The Capital expenditure is budgeted to rise to R 7.9 billion in 2019/20 and is allocated to meeting infrastructure and household services needs and backlogs over the medium term. About R 3.7 billion of this is directed to new housing developments and interim servicing of informal settlements.
As a caring City, provision has been made for residents who are unable to pay for basic services. The City’s social package of R 3.9 billion for 2019/20 is partially funded by the Municipality’s equitable share allocation of R 3.2 billion from national government. The basic social package aims to help more vulnerable residents by supporting them with basic services and also by providing them with rates relief in the form of rebates or discounts. This is an affirmation of the Municipality’s commitment to push back the frontiers of poverty by providing support to residents who cannot afford to pay, because of adverse social and economic realities said Gumede.
The social package is outlines as follows:
Residential Properties valued up to R 230 000 will be exempt from paying rates. All other properties valued above R 230 000, the first R 120 000 no rates charged.
Pensioners, child-headed households, disability grantees and the medically boarded are exempt from paying rates, with the maximum rebate not exceeding R 4 373.
No rates levied on the first R 30 000 value of vacant land and Outside the Urban Development Line
The first 6kl of water is free to households with property values under R 250 000.
The first 50kwh of electricity is free to residents using less than 150kwh per month in Eskom reticulated areas.
The first 65kwh of electricity is free to residents using less than 150kwh per month in eThekwini reticulated areas
Residential property valued up to R 250 000 exempt from domestic refuse removal tariff. In addition, a free basic refuse removal service is also available to indigent consumer units living in rural, informal settlements and non-kerbside residents.
The first 6kl of effluent disposal is exempt for all properties with values under R 250 000. In addition, a free basic service is also available to indigent consumer units with VIP’s, urine diversion toilets and in informal settlements serviced by means of a toilet/ablution block within 200m.
As a caring city, every effort has been made to cushion the ratepayers and customers under the current state of the economy. The rates increase of 6.9% is about the lowest in the country, especially when compared to Johannesburg (11.7%) and Cape Town (averaging about 9% revaluing of properties)
The electricity tariff increases of 13.07% are an indicative increase due to the 15.69% increase expected from Eskom. However, should NERSA further review the Eskom increase, the City will also review the tariffs.
Water tariff increase of 15% for domestic consumers and 15.5% for business are based on the Umgeni Water Board increase of 9.6% and takes into account the additional capital expenditure on Water in terms of the rollout of the Western Aqueduct, huge urbanization increase trends, provision of ablution facilities, as well as free basic water. The sewer tariff has been contained to 9.9% despite similar challenges to water in terms of increased service delivery demands, capital expenditure, ablution blocks and additional servicing of pit latrines.
The 9.9% refuse tariff increase is due to additional areas being serviced, additional cleaning of the beachfront, CBD, and townships, and hence the increase above CPI could not be avoided.
JOB CREATION, SKILLS, POVERTY ALLEVIATION & YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Through township renewal projects, the City has succeeded in bringing economic opportunities and job creation closer to the people.
The 2019/20 budget makes provision for the continuation of following projects:
– A capital budget provision of R9m, and an operating budget of R6.8m has been made for the Agri-park in the 2019/20 year. To create 19,925 jobs over 5 years.
– The Zibambele Programme (R 101 m) benefits over 6 500 of the City’s most destitute citizens
– Sihlanvimvelo stream cleaning (R 39.7m) – over 500 jobs created.
– 1 500 caretakers employed at ablution facilities with a further 70 to be employed as further ablution facilities are completed
– 1 600 people employed by DSW utilizing the EPWP grant. Target to create 25 855 work opportunities.
– Use of 1 483 plumbing contractors on a rotational basis to undertake water related services
– 17 major contractors employing about 1 800 people for refuse removal services
– 140 community based contractors utilized in the roll out of rural water and sanitation projects
– A provision of R 87.7 m has been made to increase the number of soup kitchens from 74 currently to 92. The main aim is to have 1 soup kitchen per ward. About 450 beneficiaries are served in each soup kitchen site.
– 426 Agro Ecology community gardens. Total Agricultural Operational Budget of R 31.3m. Total Agricultural Capital Budget of R 19,8m
– Youth Development initiatives for the 2019/20 year amount to R 6.2 m trainee and graduate trainee bursary/loan student programs. In addition there is provision of R 19.5 m in respect of other youth development initiatives.
– 10 graduate engineers employed under the Water mentorship program
The following have been achieved through the eThekwini Municipal Academy (EMA) and has benefitted a number of young people:
– Work experience training to 1 118 students
– Apprenticeships – 801
– Skills Programmes – about 1 077 learners have benefited
– Learnerships – about 371 learners
– Bursaries awarded to 120 students
– Financial relief to 138 students towards their university fees
– We have rolled out 31 Career Expos and 30 Life Orientation educators trained
– Our Career Expo and Youth Employability indaba attracts more exhibitors and visitors from schools, communities, corporate and government entities.
– Successful Girls Leadership Camp in Ntshongweni Dam last year.
In response to climate change and in light of the recent devastating floods the City will implement tangible initiatives to protect its citizens as well as its economic investments.
The City’s Disaster Management and Emergency Control operates on a 24/7 basis to provide services in terms of Disaster Management Operations, Emergency call taking,
Dispatching of all Emergency Services, CCTV monitoring and programs such as risk assessment and risk reduction interventions.
A provision of R10m has been made in the operating budget for additional staff and general expenses and a further provision has been made in the Operating budget for
R9,3m for additional Fire and Emergency staff.
Gumede concluded her address by reaffirming her commitment to work together with all stakeholders and make eThekwini the best city to live in.
The Municipality’s budget for the 2019/20 financial year was approved by Council.