eThekwini municipality chief financial officer Sandile Mnguni told the metro’s business sector that the city has maintained a healthy bank balance and credit rating for 2020/2021, despite the impact of COVID-19 and last year’s civil unrest.
The municipality’s annual report is currently open for public comment before the council votes on it. The report states that when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, Durban lost R7 billion of foreign direct investment and revenue collection fell to 56 percent within months.
Through relief measures revenue collection is back at 94 percent, but Mnguni concedes that old water and sewerage infrastructure remains a concern.
Mnguni says, “Part of the decision that was made by the leadership is that we need to prioritise both water and sanitation. Sanitation, some of its infrastructure is old and ageing, therefore we need to renew some of it.”
“And Water has done an assessment as to which assets should be prioritised in terms of renewal for the next 2 to 3 years. So we will be focussing on those two so we minimise the challenges that we had,” says Mnguni.
Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Palesa Phili has, however, criticised the dilapidated state of the Durban CDB, citing challenges of filth and drug dealing in key tourist spaces.
Phili says, “So we need to address the issue of security, make people feel secure when they come to our city. And really clean up our city to make sure that we improve on tourism. Because we’ll talk about the occupancy rate, how low it’s become. Yes, there is an impact that took place from COVID-19 and the unrest in terms of people’s financial positions. But the reality is, when you look at other cities such as Cape Town, I mean their tourism is booming.”