The Democratic Alliance in the City of uMhlathize has written to the City’s Municipal Manager Dr Nhlanhla Sibeko to seek clarity on where the funding for the Mayoral mansion project is sourced and why has it not been communicated to the council and the public in general. The cash-strapped City of Umhlathuze will be spending an estimated R20 million on a mansion for its Mayor, Cllr Mduduzi Gift Mhlongo.
What is of concern is that the matter and its support resolutions were not brought to council for proper deliberation and engagement.
Construction of the mansion is underway at the Meer En See suburb, where clearing on the 4470 square meter yard has begun. The land has been zoned as High-Density Residential 3 and has an estimated worth of R5 to R 6.5 million. A further concern is that the development notice says the clearing is intended for municipal housing and no mention of the fact that the mayor’s mansion is to be erected.
After inspecting the building floor plans, the mansion is estimated to cover 912.65 square meters with the remaining 3557.35 square meters of the plot being designated for the guards quarters and a garden area. Consultation with a few building contractors has estimated that development for high-flying politicians can range between R13 500 per square meter bringing construction cost to R12.32 million. This excludes the erection of a boundary wall, landscaping and paving and security features which can raise the cost by an added R2 million. There is still the cost of furniture and interior decoration that could escalate from anything between R750 000 to R1.5 million if we are being modest and the continued housekeeping and garden maintenance costs that can range from R20 000 to R25 000 a month.
The City of Umhlathuze economy is non-existent with tourism not being their strong point and the continued dilapidating infrastructure is a frequent knock on progress. Local industry is leaving the area due to the lack of political will, and vacant developmental land is hindered by bulk services being the highest in the country, the only municipality running a road levy and imposing exorbitant fees to sporting and social clubs.
These one-sided and selfish political decisions don’t only cripple economic growth but guarantee an increase in unemployment.
If this plot was used correctly with the cash injection of the R20 million, a public-private partnership could see the development of 40 to 65 residential apartments valued at anything R450 000 to R600 000 each, providing an added cash injection to the city of R29 250 000 to R39 000 000. Money that can be reinvested in social housing or the city’s health care, monies that can be injected into youth business development or a booster injection to fixing the city’s infrastructure.
The City of Umhlathuze has its priorities skewed and seems to care more about sustaining the lavish lifestyle of politicians than the communities that voted them in.
DA–led governments like the City of Tshwane has instead sold their mayoral mansion and injected the proceeds into pro-poor budgets, bringing change to the lives of ordinary people. It is clear today that a vote for the ANC is one that sees investment in expensive SUVs, an entourage of bodyguards, more mansions and social gatherings.
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There is no need for a mayor to have a private residence at the expense of the taxpayer nor is there need for a mayor to have security equivalent to a president. The DA in the City of Umhlathuze will fight tooth and nail to bring a halt to this obvious waste of public funds, and we will follow all due processes to ensure that public funds are not deep pockets for ANC cronies and corrupt politicians.
The 2019 General Election is one where all South Africans must take a stand against such acts, and it all starts with going to your nearest voting stations and registering to vote. Corruption will continue to steal from the poorest of the poor for so long as the ANC is in government. The DA still remains the only organization with a plan to bring change to the lives of ordinary citizens. KZN is ready for Total Change come 2019 and the Democratic Alliance has fit for purpose leaders who can do that.