The Msunduzi municipality’s R27 million sponsorship deal with the former Durban based Royal AM FC was met with disbelief from disgruntled opposition benches.
This sponsorship over three years has also angered local residents, who wants the funds to be diverted for service delivery. Losing the relegated Maritzburg United, as their main tenant at the Harry Gwala Stadium, the municipality seeks to attract revenue from other sources.
Opposition parties in the municipality in KwaZulu-Natal are up in arms following the city’s decision to sponsor Royal AM FC. While the deal is still expected to be signed later this week, the Harry Gwala Stadium is already branded with Royal AM logos. This while the city remains under administration. DA caucus leader in the municipality, Ross Strachan says the funds could have been used for service delivery.
“We have opposed it whole heartedly due to the fact that cost containment we shouldn’t be sponsoring soccer teams that should be looking after themselves and we are in a situation that we can’t execute basic service delivery and those funds should be going towards basic service delivery. The city is collapsing around us on daily basis, no water, no electricity, sewage leaks everywhere, we should be focusing on that as a core function to try and get our people services not sponsoring soccer sides that can look after themselves,” says Strachan.
KwaZulu-Natal ActionSA chair, Zwakele Mncwango say paying off the city’s debt with Eskom was also an option.
“But in this case, we talk of a municipality that has been under administration for about five years now and still to date there is no improvement in terms of financial stability in that municipality. Now how do you come and say you will allocate R27 million to a football club at a time you can’t even service your debt with Eskom, currently the municipality is owing Eskom about R400 million that they find it difficult to service that debt but come and say you got millions to support a team. We know that the owners of Royal AM are the ones who show us as the public how they flash millions on unnecessary items like cars,” says Mncwango.
Residents Allen Pillay and Bongeka Zuma spoke to some of their biggest service delivery concerns in the province’s capital city.
“Service delivery is very poor at the moment when it comes to cleanliness, they are slacking a bit. Our crime is getting from bad to worse. If you go into our town, it is pathetic, you cannot walk safe in town our roads there is a hell lot of potholes, 95 percent of our roads have potholes,” says Pillay.
In terms of the city being clean, sometimes we see municipal cars collecting refuse, we do have water, but with electricity power outages are killing us, but the roads are worse,” says Zuma.
But Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla is adamant that the council’s decision was the correct due to it being authorised by the municipal administrator.
“We approached the team to partner with us to ask them to use Harry Gwala Stadium as their home ground because we know what does that mean to the people of the city, yes the city is under administration. The reasons that put us under administration, we understand we have developed a turn around plan. If you under administration in terms of section 139 (1) b of the Constitution, any decision that you make the provincial government through the administrator has either to condone or not to condone. The fact that we made a good decision is the fact that the administrator agrees with us so it means it is the correct decision,” says Thebolla.
This while the Msunduzi municipality owes Umgeni Water about R300 million and Eskom more than R400 million. Royal AM FC says they would not comment at this stage.
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