Msunduzi residents protest over R27 million given to Maritzburg United
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Cash-strapped Msunduzi has defended the council’s approval of a R27 million sponsorship of Maritzburg United Football Club as protesters took to the streets on Friday accusing the municipality of wasting money meant to uplift the city.
The Msunduzi Association of Residents, Ratepayer and Civics (MARRC) gathered at the City Hall to voice their anger over the multimillion rand deal, and to force the municipality to focus on the needs of the citizens.
Farook Kadodia, Maritzburg United chairperson, had initially approached the city with a figure of R15 million but after deliberations, the council settled on R9 million over a period of three years.
Anthony Waldhausen, MARCC chairperson said they were outraged by this decision, considering that sporting facilities throughout the city had been neglected and that residents were still subjected to poor service delivery.
“How could this be happening when every aspect of the city is crumbling, including the most significant building, the red brick City Hall?
“We have continuous water and electricity outages for weeks on end, and funds could be better spent on fixing the many infrastructure challenges,” he said.
Last month MARRC made a submission to Madoda Khathide, Msunduzi municipal manager, requesting detailed information on the sponsorship.
Through its attorneys, AT Mpungose and Dlamini Inc, MARCC ordered Msunduzi to share all applications made by the football club for financial assistance. They requested that all reports submitted to the ministerial representative, the full council, the executive committee or any other body that made recommendations on the application to be accessible.
Copies of all decisions taken and recommendations made in response to the applications, as well information pertaining to funds previously received by the club, if any, should be made available.
MARRC has also requested to be furnished with contractual agreements and all other correspondence between the club and Msunduzi, including dates of when the funds will be received, and Khathide was given a period of 30 days in which to comply.
“We are not finished yet as the municipal manager needs to respond to our PAIA Act application for information on the sponsorship, he has nine days left.
“If the municipality doesn't respond, we will appeal, and if needs be, take them to court to provide us the information we requested,” Waldhausen said.
Thobeka Mafumbatha, municipal spokesperson, said there was no turning back as the sponsorship had already kicked in. She said those who are unhappy were being misled and they did not understand the council’s processes. She said they should have protested before the sponsorship was approved.
“The sponsorship process is open to the public, and in this instance there was nothing hidden.
“The club requested R15 million but due to financial constraints, which are no secret, they could not be granted the full amount,” she said.
Mafumbatha said contrary to popular belief, the club was not receiving all the millions in cash, but the overall amount included the use of municipal facilities.
“One of the reasons for granting the sponsorship is that we are positioning the city as a capital city, it was also to enhance the municipal corporate image in the tourism aspect. This is a PSL team which helps with the city’s economy,” she said.