THE focus for eThekwini Municipality over the next three years is to deliver quality services, bridge the income gap between the rich and poor by creating sustainable job opportunities.
This was the pledge Mayor James Nxumalo made when he delivered his powerful budget speech on 31 May 2016 at City Hall, where he also outlined the achievements made in the past five years and the plans for the City moving forward.
Job creation and youth empowerment were top of the agenda as was eradicating spatial segregated planning. The packed auditorium, filled with Council members as well as the public, welcomed the speech which was adopted by Council. Nxumalo said when the current administration took office in May 2011, the budget was R31.7 billion. Today it has grown to R41.6 billion.
He said the capital budget has grown from R5.3 billion to R6.7 billion. Coupled with this achievement, the City was sitting at over R6 billion in terms of cash-on-hand. “The City has worked hard to protect the public purse and is moving with speed to render services in a fair, equitable, efficient and economic manner. Notwithstanding the economic challenges facing South Africa as a whole, eThekwini Municipality’s finances are in a healthy state given its impressive debt collection rate.”
Nxumalo said to date, eThekwini Municipality has created the highest number of work opportunities, around 134 883, which is higher than any other City in South Africa.
Honing in on opportunities for the youth, Nxumalo said in line with Council’s commitment to address the plight of young people, over R100 million has been set aside for various youth programmes.
“We are also finalising detailed plans and new funding to support small, micro and medium enterprises targeting youth, women, military veterans and other interest groups.”
He said their commitment to youth development is further emphasised with the establishment of the Youth Office which facilitates all youth programmes in the City.
“We will facilitate the training of 10 000 youth as artisans over the next three years. This programme will cost R741 million,” said Nxumalo.
Nxumalo added that the Mayoral Student Financial Relief Fund which offers bursaries to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds was launched in 2015. He also outlined various job creations and skills development initiatives undertaken by the Municipality to support government’ calls to address unemployment. Nxumalo said high on the City’s agenda is the promotion of mixed-use development, racial and spatial integration through the Built Environment Performance Plan and Spatial Development Framework.