NATIONAL NEWS - Members of the eThekwini Council’s Executive Committee are considering whether to include refugees in their new indigent policy.
A report tabled before Exco on Tuesday revealed that the City is looking for approval to initiate an Indigent Policy for implementation in the 2020/21 financial year.
The objective of the policy is to alleviate the burden of poverty on the city’s poor residents through subsidisation of basic municipal services (water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal). If approved, the policy will need to be allocated a budget for the 2020/21 financial year which is set to be tabled in March 2020.
The issues raised around the report focused on the wording of who would qualify as an indigent person.
In the draft independent policy, one of the qualifying criteria is, “a refugee may be eligible for relief provided they have recognised refugee status.”
Nicole Graham, Democratic Alliance eThekwini caucus leader said she was in support of the policy but was concerned about the inclusion of refugees.
Graham said with South Africa’s porous borders, it meant that a large number of people would qualify as indigent and the programme would not be sustainable. She suggested a one-year pilot programme before the city fully commits to it.
Belinda Scott, eThekwini deputy-mayor, said the policy needed to be reworded as it may lead to a large number of refugees coming into Durban.
“The minute you say that refugees can apply you’re basically saying that all refugees can come to Durban and that they will be put on an indigent register, and that is a problem,” she said.
Scott suggested that the criteria should be based on what someone earns, rather than where they are from.
Krish Kumar, Chief Financial Officer of eThekwini Municipality, said the criteria was designed according to the SA constitution.
It was resolved that the wording of the proposal be reworked and presented back to Exco at a later date.