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MBABANE – All they should be concentrating their efforts on is proper service delivery to ratepayers, but instead, they continue astounding themselves – they gallivant.

This is what some municipal councils and town board managers seem to be enjoying at the detriment of ratepayers. This time, they are in a process of taking a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to attend the 9th Session of the World Urban Forum.

Matsapha Municipality is one of the municipal councils who, through a Special Council in Committee meeting held last month, agreed to allow two of its officials to attend the forum.

This trip to overseas comes at a time when the Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza had recently disapproved of the municipality’s intentions to go on a retreat costing about E 0.5 million in South Africa for just three days at the beginning of the year.

Councillors had agreed to this extravagant retreat as illustrated in the contents of the Special Council in Committee meeting held in December last year.
For partaking in the three-day retreat; each of the 11 councillors would have received over E15 000 as subsistence allowance. A major outcry led by ratepayers in the town resulted in council abandoning the trip and opting, instead to convene their retreat at Simunye Country Club on a much cheaper budget.


Despite this, the Sukati-led council has since written a letter requesting Mabuza to allow them to be part of the minister’s delegation going to Malaysia next week.

 In the ‘request to be considered for approval letter’, the Matsapha Municipality disclosed that they had participated in the endeavour by government to localise the goal and meetings were held where the local authorities played a vital role in informing the forum.
 The council has requested the minister to allow the Mayor of Matsapha, Nkhanyeti Ngwenya, as well as the Chief Executive Officer, Lucky Sukati, to attend the forum.

 If allowed, they are expected to leave Swaziland for the conference on today, for the forum that is expected to commence on Wednesday and return on February 15, 2018 as stated in the letter written to the minister.

Similarly, the Municipal Council of Manzini will also attend the forum and council is expected to foot the bill.
According to information reaching this publication, the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Bongani Shongwe, city treasurer and city engineer will be attending the forum.

Linda Khanya, who is the acting Public Relations Officer (PRO), said attendance at the World Urban Forum was free of charge. She said all participants were expected to cover are the costs of their travel, accommodation and all other expenses related to the trip.
Khanya confirmed the fact that it was not the first time that council attended the forum and they had gained immensely from their involvement over the years.

An example of how the city had gained from attending the WUF over the years was the slum upgrading project.
“This has been one of council’s biggest projects; adopting participatory slum upgrading principles,” she said.
She said the Murray Camp Demographic Survey was successfully carried out in partnership with the community.
“There was also an upgrading of Council’s procedure or policy to incorporate the principles of Participatory Slum Upgrading.”

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