eThekwini to spend R450 000 on dinner, breakfast Down Under

Amanda Khoza, News24

Durban – Ethekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and a delegation of six officials are expected to travel to Sydney, Australia, for a dinner and breakfast in April - at a cost of R450 000.

The municipality’s executive council decided in April last year to help host the 17th African Renaissance Festival and the dinner and breakfast would form part of this, according to a council meeting agenda.

The dinner would be co-hosted by South Africa’s High Commissioner to Australia, Sbu Ndebele, on April 11. The breakfast would be the following morning.

The delegation was expected to leave Durban on April 9 and return on April 13.

The City said the council had not yet approved the trip. Ethekwini municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said the mayor’s participation in overseas activities was based on getting advice on growing the city’s economy.

This is the City's third spending scandal in less than a week.

On Tuesday, the City revealed it would spend R3.7m, including VAT, to host US rappers T.I. and Nicki Minaj later in March.

Last week, it emerged that 40 councillors planned to take a luxury cruise to the Portuguese Islands, at a cost of R160 000, as part of a maritime conference.

The ANC in the province subsequently barred its councillors from participating in the cruise, which took place over the voter registration weekend.
The cruise, which was brought up during Tuesday's executive council meeting, was referred to the economic development and planning committee for discussion.

The DA’s eThekwini caucus leader, Zwakele Mncwango, found it strange that the municipality would want to approve a dinner and a breakfast to Australia after the controversy about the cruise.

"The problem with the cruise was that there were too many people going and it was a waste of money. It’s the same thing here."

He questioned why the matter was referred back to the committee when the council had the powers to approve it.

NFP councillor Bongiwe Mtshali said there was no need to send a large delegation to Australia for just a dinner and a breakfast.

"The costs are too high. I understand that we are preparing for the Commonwealth Games and we need to market our city, but we are supposed to be cutting costs as mandated by national."

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the trip was about marketing Durban.

"We don’t see anything wrong with budgeted events. The trouble comes when the city just spends money recklessly. This is not wasteful expenditure because we want Durban and KwaZulu-Natal to be known worldwide," Nkosi said.