eThekwini Municipality is sending 40 councillors on a three day ‘Cruise Summit’ on board the luxurious MSC Sinfonia, despite calls from finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, to curtail spending in the public sector.
According to the SABC, the conference will set sail from Durban to the Portuguese Island in Mozambique at a cost of R160,000, which has caused outrage among rival parties who say their pleas to scrap the event have fallen on deaf ears.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the National Freedom Party (NFP) said that they will boycott the trip.
Nicole Graham a DA councillor called the conference a “holiday for councillors that is being funded by tax payers and by rate payers”.
“We understand that there is a need to focus on the maritime industry in Durban, and particularly the recreational cruising industry which could bring us a lot of revenue; but this could be done without a free holiday currently the city is in such a bad state across.”
City spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa told the Mercury that due consideration had been taken of the cost and a cost comparison was done.
“It should be noted that the cost per person is in comparison to the total cost of municipal representatives travelling to Johannesburg to attend a conference for the day,” Mthethwa said.
Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Economic Development and Planning Committee, Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala, said that the summit, which will take place between 4 and 7 March, is intended to stimulate growth in what has already proven to be an important segment of the tourism sector in Durban.
“The cruise summit will not only look into the background to the cruise industry and how it forms part of initiatives to transform the City into a Smart Port City as explored during the Summit but also look at critical issues such as the proposed new cruise terminal, how this will interface with Durban’s Point Waterfront, how the cruise industry is changing and what Durban needs to do to grow its cruise market share,” Shabalala said.