Ratepayers in eThekwini have demanded a breakdown of the municipality’s spending of R8.6m on a slew of public events, including two picnics and a hip-hop festival, reports the Mail & Guardian.

The eThekwini Ratepayers Protest Movement has launched a citywide boycott of payment of utility bills, including municipal property rates, water and electricity accounts.

The movement’s representative, Asad Gafar, said residents had a right to know exactly how the money is being spent on the events, such as expenditure on food, entertainment and venue hire.

Ratepayers have questioned why the city is spending millions on entertainment when the city’s water and sanitation infrastructure is collapsing.

eThekwini did not respond to repeated requests for a breakdown of the budgets for the events.

‘The R8.6m spending on events is totally unnecessary when the city is falling apart. R2m is being spent on a picnic; we have a right to know exactly how it is being spent and they have a responsibility to let us ratepayers, and everyone know exactly what those costs are,’ Gafar said.

In an earlier statement, the municipality said it was investing a total of R10.9m ‘in an array of community upliftment programmes by investing in growing the creative industry which suffered financial losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic’, and several additional health and national holiday programmes.

The ratepayers movement is embroiled in a battle at the KZN High Court (Durban) with the municipality after it filed an application to force the city to reconnect the electricity of five residents who joined the citywide utility boycott.

Judgment has been reserved.

Full Mail & Guardian report