The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality has a shortage of office space for councillors, and the Democratic Alliance (DA) estimates that about 150 council representatives don't have offices, which stymies service delivery.
There are 222 councillors in eThekwini. The metro says 30 councillors are without working spaces, while opposition parties say the number is much higher.
DA eThekwini caucus chief whip Vincent Mkhize estimated that 150 councillors were without offices. Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) councillor Mdu Nkosi, whose party has 17 council representatives, said most of their councillors were without offices. Nkosi said offices were necessary for councillors to perform their functions without hindrance.
"The issue of offices and councillors is a challenge. If we don't have offices, where must our people contact us?" he asked.
He said there was a bad "attitude" among City officials, who seem to be preventing councillors from getting offices.
Mkhize and Nkosi said the matter had been raised with eThekwini Speaker Thabani Nyawose.
The councillors said the issue had persisted since the 2021 municipal elections.
Municipal spokesperson Lindiwe Khuzwayo said the council has 222 members, of whom 192 have offices and 30 do not.
However, Mkhize was adamant that the City's figure was incorrect. He said of the 59 DA councillors in the council, fewer than 10 had offices.
He said an African National Congress (ANC) source had told him that about 40% of the ANC councillors had offices.
The matter of councillors being allocated offices doesn't impact on service delivery since all elected [councillors] have access to all municipality offices whenever they require support from officials on service delivery matters.
She said there was no distinct period from when the problem started, as office requests came at different times.
When asked how the City plans to address the issue and whether there were timelines to the resolution, Khuzwayo said: "Other than providing office access to councillors in municipal buildings, councillors are issued with park homes and, as a last resort, access to office space is also granted through leasing privately owned buildings, with lease agreements being concluded in line with municipal procurement processes."
But Mkhize said the option to rent space was always met with compliance issues, adding that not all suburbs have municipal buildings which councillors can use as office space.
He said the available buildings aren't always suitable, close early or don't operate on weekends, whereas councillors must be available all the time to the residents under their jurisdictions.
He said the DA would again write to Nyawose about the lack of offices.