HCM Hits back at AfriForum

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Several burning issues were addressed by the Hibiscus Coast Municipality at a media briefing on Tuesday — amongst them criticism by Afriforum that the municipality had been guilty of serious management transgressions. The HCM has berated Afriforum on several issues, and accused it, inter alia, ‘of embarking on fishing expeditions with the intention of public participation through the courts’:

CONCERN BY AFRIFORUM OF A TRIP BY MAYOR TO DUBLIN

The Hibiscus Coast municipality has noted a letter in the media, which is addressed to the municipality by AfriForum.

In that letter, the organization seems to question the Mayor’s visit to Dublin, Ireland last year to receive the Best Cities Award from the Europe Business Assembly. The main concern apparently revolves around the legitimacy of the trip, and the authenticity of the award itself.

Whilst the municipality will be happy to address issues raised by AfriForum or any other organization for that matter, we must note that the organization has not communicated this directly with the municipality. Furthermore they have failed to follow proper procedures to obtain the information that they demand as per provisions of Section 18 (1) of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Therefore until we are formally approached we are not really going to entertain the matter suffice to state that in the interest of transparency that we do maintain that the Mayor’s trip to Dublin was duly considered and authorised by Council.

RESOLUTIONS OF THE COUNCIL MEETING OF 25 JUNE 2013

1. Learnerships and Skills Development Programme

The Department of Planning and Economic Development has partnered with Furniture World Private College, an FET based with its head office in Gauteng.

This partnership will see 50 learners from across the Hibiscus Coast engage in learnerships, whilst a further 190 will be afforded an opportunity for skills development programmes. The focus of the learnerships will be on furniture making, upholstery, construction and early childhood development.

We are confident that the learners will benefit in terms of skills and knowledge, which will equip them with lifelong tools for further opportunities. As part of our contribution to job creation, we are pleased to also highlight that the 50 selected learners will receive a monthly stipend of R1200-00 for the duration of the year-long programme.

2. Senior Citizens Games Selection

It is that time of the year again when Hibiscus Coast municipality, along with the rest of local government in the Province, takes part in an elimination process which will culminate in the selection of a team of senior citizens to compete in the Provincial Games in the various sports codes.

As part of our contribution, the municipality will host selection games on the 28th June 2013. The participants will take part in netball, soccer, and other various fun games designed to keep our elderly citizens healthy. The winners in all categories will form part of the Ugu District team to compete at the Provincial Games.

We wish to call upon all senior citizens to make use of this wonderful opportunity, and we wish them the best of luck.

3. Establishment of a Religious Leaders Forum

Hibiscus Coast municipality, in consultation with the Office of the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, is in the process to establish a Religious Leaders Forum. The objective of the forum is to afford religious leaders of all denominations a platform to engage on important matters of morality and faith, as well as enable them to speak with a unified voice on public policy issues.

In addition, it is anticipated that the Forum will be an important voice in the fight against social ills affecting our communities. In this regard, the Forum will work closely with community- based organisations focusing on social development in general and vulnerable groups in particular.

The Mayor of Hibiscus Coast municipality, Councillor Nomusa Mqwebu, will co-ordinate the activities of the Forum as its political champion.

4. Revival of the Men’s Forum

The Hibiscus Coast municipality, in line with activities of the month of July which has been earmarked as Men’s Month, will revive its Men’s forum spearheaded by the Office of the Speaker.

The Forum was formed in the belief that men should, and must play an important role in the protection of women and children. The objectives of the Forum are to respond to the general moral decay facing our society, wherein the majority of perpetrators of crime against women and children are men.

The Forum aims to empower men to adapt to the demands of today’s life, as well as afford them an opportunity to play a meaningful role in the general social development of our communities.

5. Summer Beach Festival to replace I-Beach Xplosion

The Hibiscus Coast municipality hosted the first I-beach Xplosion Festival last year, which was a success.

We have noted numerous negative issues raised in the media by some residents, and who have been openly campaigning for the ban of the festival.

As a municipality we respect and appreciate the rights of all citizens to self- expression and hence were these noted.

With specific reference to the Ibeach Xplosion, our municipality has unfortunately lost the bid to host this event due to financial constraints. We do understand that it will still be held in another part of the Province.

Today we would like to reveal that in line with our vision as a tourist-friendly destination, the Hibiscus Coast Municipality is planning to host a Summer Beach Festival to replace the previous Ibeach Xplosion.

A detailed plan will be submitted to Council, and upon approval the municipality will then communicate the logistics of the Summer Beach Festival to the public.

It is our view that in our area of South Coast, tourism is a viable alternative where there are limited industrial activities and as a result events of this nature play a pivotal role in advancing and promoting tourism and also other local businesses.

Furthermore an event of this nature will place our area on the map.

6. HCM donates land for a house of scholarship student

Deputy Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks of the National Department of Human Settlement, together with Mayor councillor Nomusa Mqwebu, will hand over a house to Ms Nolulamo Yalo this Thursday at Bhobhoyi, Jesus location before addressing the general public at the eSchithweni Sports Ground in the same area.

This follows the National Department of Human Settlement’s efforts to obtain sponsorship from a private sector investor, who built the home on behalf of the department. Ms Yalo is also a beneficiary of a scholarship from the same department, studying towards a Bachelor of Social Science in Housing at the University of KwaZulu- Natal.

The Hibiscus Coast municipality donated land in order for the house to be built and furthermore, the municipality facilitated the process of installation of electricity, a standpipe and the construction of a VIP toilet.

The municipality also engaged Multiwood Furniture Manufacturers who will be donating two (2) delta beds, two wardrobes and a kitchen set as a way of providing a better quality of life for the beneficiary and her siblings.

Ms Yalo and her family have stayed almost all their lives in Bhobhoyi as tenants. After the tragic passing of their mother in 2009, she and her siblings had no choice but to be accommodated on church premises in a two roomed house.

The department solicited the services of Dezzo Construction Company who are the generous sponsors who constructed the house.

7. Afriforum claim that HCM charges illegal fees at Sonny Evans Small Craft Harbour

Once again Afriforum has found another project it believes it can use to cast shadow of doubt above the municipality, questioning integrity in its actions and claiming that it is acting outside the legal framework of the country. Just to set the record straight, indeed, the Integrated Coastal Management Act does state that no fee may be charged for access to coastal public property without written authority from the Minister. The Hibiscus Coast municipality is however, not charging fees for the public to enter coastal public property but is rather charging the various users of the launch site a facility management fee.

Our engagement with the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs concurs with our view that the municipality is entitled to charge a recovery fee, which is also confirmed in the Record of Decision from the same department, and which forms part of the launch site license conditions. In addition, the Municipal Finance Management Act as well as the Municipal Systems Act directs a municipality to recoup some income from certain facilities offered to members of the public in its area of jurisdiction.

It is highly unlikely that any local authority will continue managing a facility which costs in the region of R1 600 000-00 per annum to run without being able to recover a portion from frequent users, who coincidentally make up less than 1% of total ratepayers. The services provided at the site will be expected to continue and therefore in essence Afriforum would want to see all ratepayers fully bearing the costs for this entertainment activity. We believe this is unfair burden to the ratepayers.

The current facility fee charged is well within and in most cases below fees charged by other local authorities or clubs appointed to manage launch sites on their behalf.

Whilst the High Court decision cited by AfriForum against the then Borough of Shelly Beach is noted, it is our view that it bears no relevance on the matter anymore. So many changes have occurred in the legislation today for that decision to remain relevant. Besides, the fact that we are charging a recovery fee is not unknown to the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs as per our conditions.

One must also bear in mind that the Shelly Beach Ski Boat Club, which is the main userof the launch site and its members who are all recreational users, are in full support of the HCM’s facility fee on the launch site. It is also disturbing that we have a very close working relationship with the club, meeting monthly and this matter was never raised. All of a sudden, a stakeholder who is not directly involved with these processes ignore the current communication channels and raise the matter as done by Afriforum. This just put in full view such negative attitude that the Afriforum has towards this municipality and its leadership.

We regard this as one of those fishing expeditions they have resolved to embark on with intentions of doing public participation through the courts. As they have said in this regard, that if we do not stop charging these fees they will apply for a court interdict. Let it be known that we believe we are charging these fees within the provisions of the law and we believe that it is only fair for all ratepayers to apply the principle of the user pays in this regard. Therefore, should Afriforum opt to apply for an interdict we will be forced to oppose it. Unfortunately, this is how Afriforum would like to see us using the rates and it is obvious that in the process there would be some people benefiting financially.

Afriforum if it genuinely want to engage the municipality on this matter it is welcomed to follow the proper channels and establish how is the municipality working with the interested and affected parties and establish how they can raise the matter properly rather than rushing to demand and approach courts. This is not in the spirit of public participation that our legislation intended.

Issued by:

Simon M Soboyisa
Senior Manager: Mayoralty and Communications
Hibiscus Coast Municipality
10 Connor Street, Port Shepstone
039 688 2056 (t)
072 057 5387 082 752 2881(c)
086 529 7121 (f)

[email protected] / [email protected]

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