South Africa News

Mayor Kaunda says eThekwini finances are all clear, but staff locked out over unpaid rent

eThekwini Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said this week that the city’s finances are “stable and sound” but some in the metropolitan area have shared concern over the state of finances after Treasury Department staff were locked out of their offices over unpaid rent.

On Monday, Kaunda updated the media about a number of issues affecting the city, including the finances.

Despite being a topic of grave concern, the city only offered two paragraphs to the public for an insight into the state of Durban’s finances.

“Ladies and gentlemen, despite the tough economic climate, which is punctuated with rising inflation, interest rates, food, and fuel prices, as well as a weakening exchange rate, the overall financial position of eThekwini Municipality remains stable and sound.

“Currently, our collection rate is sitting at 100.72%, up from 92.3% in July, with 72 days of cash on hand. These are all positive trends which augur well for the financial viability and sustainability of the city,” Kaunda said.

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) in the region had a different view on the state of eThekwini’s finances, however.

This came after the union was contacted by Treasury Department employees complaining that they were locked out of their offices, the Daily News reported.

Samwu said employees based at the Smart Exchange building on Walnut Road were locked out on Monday over an unpaid rent dispute between the landlord and the municipality.

Samwu regional secretary Xolani Dube said the union is concerned about eThekwini’s finances and even raised his concerns two weeks ago during a protest.

Dube said the municipality’s inability to pay the rent at Treasury offices was concerning because the department deals with finances including revenue collections.

“The city’s finances are in a dire situation, and we have raised it several times. Two weeks back we marched for our performance bonuses, which the city had not paid for two years now. The mayor once called us a bunch of lazy workers, yet the city was not providing resources for us to perform, like paying rent for offices we must use to perform,” Dube told the Daily News.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana, however, denied that staff were locked out.

“City employees working at the Smart Exchange building have not been locked out of their offices. Staff have been discharging their duties as per any normal working day,” Sisilana said.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke released the state of KwaZulu-Natal municipalities in her 2021–2022 audit report.

At least nine municipalities in KZN face collapse due to poor financial management, the report found.

“The crumbling municipal infrastructure has not only affected service delivery but has also increased the risk of harm to communities and the environment,” the AG recorded in her report.

-IOL

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