Zululand mayor defends the municipality's half a million rand donation to churches
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DURBAN - ZULULAND mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi has defended his municipality’s donation of R500 000 to churches.
This after he was accused of taking the money earmarked for service delivery by ANC youth leader, Lindokuhle Xulu. The mayor announced the donation to the Zululand Church Leaders Forum in a prayer in Ulundi on Friday.
Xulu, who has had running battles with the mayor since the municipality hosted a business breakfast in Durban last month, told the Daily News on Wednesday that the donation should be regarded as wasteful expenditure because the municipality was not allowed to donate funds earmarked for service delivery.
Xulu appealed to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka to investigate this donation and R436 000 the mayor used to pay for 25 Amakhosi medical aid policies, but the mayor defended his decision to assist the church forum, telling the Daily News the municipality believed the churches were important partners in promoting social cohesion and fighting social ills.
“The amount of R500 000 was allocated to churches in the council’s budget. Just as we partner with the sports and entertainment sectors, we have decided to partner with the church in executing our service delivery mandate,” said the mayor.
During the prayer service he announced that churches would use the money allocated to them by the municipality to buy tents and chairs, especially those churches using sports fields to conduct services. The mayor added that churches which have gardening spaces in their yards would plant vegetables to feed congregants.
Church Leaders’ Forum chairperson Bishop Moses Sibiya thanked the municipality and said the money would go a long way to assist churches in community projects. Sibiya said the churches were hard hit by Covid-19 and people could no longer afford to make offerings because many lost jobs.
“We would use the money for grass cutters. People must remember that pastors rely on offerings to survive, since Covid-19 affected everybody. We have projects to carry out in our churches so the government must support us because we have a role to play in our communities and the government uses our services,” said Sibiya.
The district municipality and the mayor had been in the news since he hosted a business breakfast at the Elangeni hotel in Durban last month. The event was disturbed when a handful of Zululand residents, mainly young people, protested outside the hotel demanding the mayor address them.
They criticised the municipality for hosting the event out of Zululand, adding that it cost R5 million.
The mayor dismissed the figure and produced the hotel invoice reflecting R80 000.
Cogta spokesperson Senzelwe Mzila said the department was working on a response.